50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer kicks off in Philadelphia - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer kicks off in Philadelphia

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David Goodman (brother of Andrew Goodman) talking with Congressman John Lewis David Goodman (brother of Andrew Goodman) talking with Congressman John Lewis

It's been 50 years since a campaign was launched to inform and register as many African-Americans as possible to vote in Mississippi.

Some heavy hitters in civil rights kicked off the first day of a week long series of events for the 50th Annual Freedom Summer Anniversary.  

Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States launched in June of 1964.

Sunday's kickoff event at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church honored three volunteers: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner who were murdered in Neshoba County right before the campaign started.
"It was just a flood of memories coming back and also a time to make an assessment of where we are now compared to then," said Myrlie Evers-Williams, the wife of Medgar Evers. "The 12th of June mark the 51st anniversary of Medgars assassination and I don't know it's still fresh after all these years it coes back to kind of haunt me but that's why we continue to work like we do."
Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) served as the keynote speaker during Sunday's ceremony and stressed the importance of voting.
"The state of Mississippi back in 1964 had a black voting population of about 450,000 but only about 16,000 there was harrassment people had been beaten, arrested," said Representative Lewis.
Many people, including Representative Lewis, are working to educate those on the importance of voting.

"Our young people, you have to participate, you have to vote and always talk about what happened here in this state, in this county and these three young men gave their lives, they gave everything that they had and they must be looked up on as the founding fathers of the new America of the new South,"  Lewis said. 

There will be events all this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer including civil rights tours, a youth day and unity march on Saturday. 

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