Freedom Now: The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi


[music]>>JOHN LEWIS: I remember it like it was yesterday. We got off the bus and a group of young white men started beating us.>>JUDY RICHARDSON: We were put into the county jail. I suddenly realize I’m by myself and they can do anything they want to to me.>>CHARLES COBB: We knew that if you wanted to get some attention paid to what was going on in Mississippi, well, you bring the country’s children. [music] The biggest misconception of the movement is that it was a movement led by charismatic leaders engaging in direct action in public spaces. The real tradition of the civil rights movement has to do with community organizing.>>RICHARDSON: They were the ones who were the leaders. They were plowing these fields long before, sometimes, any national organization ever gets there.>>COBB: Young people emerge into leadership positions and decision making positions.>>RICHARDSON: We at the age of seventeen, eighteen, nineteen years old developed this network of support for the work that we were doing in the South. Most of the country was not aware of the horrible intimidation, that was going on around the right to vote.>>LEWIS: So the idea was to bring the United States, bring America to Mississippi.>>EKWUEME MICHAEL THELWELL: It was two groups of Americans who normally would never meet. So it was an extraordinary moment in American cultural history.>>FRANCOISE HAMLIN: That idealism that came out of World War II and the 1950s propelled young people to do things that even now they can’t believe that they did.>>LEWIS: I was inspired to do something. I was inspired to get in the way. [music]>>MICHAEL VORENBERG: It wasn’t just about rights for African Americans. It was about reconstructing the nation.>>THELWELL: The struggle that the black community and its allies waged deepened the currents of American democracy for all Americans.>>LEWIS: Young people and especially high school students need to know that another generation of young people literally put their bodies on the line to make real a truly multiracial democracy. [music]

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