-- Civil rights historian Dr. John Dittmer will examine the
crucial role ordinary citizens played during the Freedom Summer
movement at the second and final installment of the Fairchild Lecture
Series on June 24.
"Courage to Act: Freedom Summer in Mississippi" will conclude
at St. Paul Methodist Church with a lecture by Dittmer, author of
"Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi."
The presentation begins at 4 p.m., followed by a reception and roundtable
discussion featuring former activists and audience members.
is the author of one of the best books ever written on the Civil
Rights movement," said Dr. Charles Bolton, chair of the Department
of History at Southern Miss. "His work fits what we're trying
to accomplish with this series, which is to shine the light on all
the local people who made the Freedom Summer movement possible."
professor at Tougaloo College in the '60s and '70s, joined the DePauw
University (Indiana) faculty in 1985. His book, "Local People,"
was published in 1994 and received the prestigious Herbert G. Gutman
Award, the Lillian Smith Book Award, the McLemore Prize from the
Mississippi Historical Society and the Bancroft Prize. The "New
York Times" named Dittmer's book one of its "Notable Books
Julian Bond called "Local People" the "definitive
analytical history of the black freedom movement in the nation's
most recalcitrant state." Dittmer was the recipient of the
1999 Exemplary Teaching Award from the General Board of Higher Education
Ministry of the United Methodist Church.
Harris, Peggy Jean Connor and Curtis Muhammed, formerly known as
Curtis Hayes, will also participate. The "Courage to Act"
series is sponsored by The University of Southern Mississippi's
Departments of History and Speech Communication, the Fairchild Lecture
Fund, the city of Hattiesburg and Forrest County, the Mississippi
Humanities Council, the Hattiesburg branch of the NAACP, the Hattiesburg
Housing Authority, and Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.
to Act" series coincides with the 40th anniversary of Freedom
Summer, which was the culmination of a defiant voter registration
drive launched by black citizens in Hattiesburg in January of 1964.
Thousands of protestors marched in front of the Forrest County Courthouse
on Jan. 22, 1964, known as "Freedom Day," with pastors
and civil rights activists from around the nation, lobbying for
black voting rights.
By June of
the same year, student volunteers from all over America descended
on Hattiesburg, where they engaged in voter canvassing in the evenings
and ran Freedom Schools during the day. At the height of the movement,
about 90 students--many of whom were white--were staying in the
homes of Hattiesburg's black citizens and working with local activists
in these programs. With almost 700 students enrolled, Hattiesburg's
Freedom School was the largest of its kind in the state.
Conville, professor of speech communication at Southern Miss, said
the first installment of the "Courage to Act" series in
January was a success. About 250 people, including many high school
students, turned out to hear lectures and discussions from civil
rights scholars and activists.
the roundtable discussions "weren't always sweet." "There
were a couple of people who gave contradictory stories of how things
happened," he said.
viewpoints are important for people to hear, added Bolton, especially
students. "There were many different voices during the movement,"
Bolton said. "Society wasn't as homogenous back then as people
tend to think."
For more information
about the "Courage to Act: Freedom Summer in Mississippi"
series, contact Dr. Charles Bolton at (601) 266-4575 or Dr. Richard
Conville at (601) 266-4272.