Briefly describe the event that became known as “Freedom Summer.” What does this episode from Civil Rights Movement history teach us about the dynamics of social change?
There are two parts to this exercise. The first set of questions asks you to evaluate the primary source documents that have been distributed to you. You will do so by responding to the five (5) specific questions in this section.
The second part of the exercise is an essay question that you will answer after having given thought to the primary sources that you have examined and assessed. You will find the preface to the essay question at the bottom of this page; the essay question begins on the back. It is recommended that you make reference to these primary sources in your essay.
Both sections require responses that have been informed by your readings of the textbook, your viewing of the episode “Mississippi: Is This America?” and your development as a historian through the semester. And do remember that these responses are to reflect original work produced by you. Any indication that what you submit is not original to you will result in a “0” for the exercise.
Section I Interpreting the Evidence (50 Points)
- Describe and analyze the purpose for Freedom Summer outlined by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s “Prospectus.” What was the group trying to do? (Document #1)
- Describe the role non-southern white volunteers played in the Freedom Summer project and explain the advantages and disadvantages they brought to Mississippi. (Document #2)
- Examine the arguments the Charleston Postmade to discredit Freedom Summer. What were its arguments? Did they sound familiar to you? How so? (Document #3)
- Evaluate the testimony of Fannie Lou Hamer. Her testimony was presented as a means to gain support for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Given what she described as having happened to her, why do you think she ended her testimony, in part, with “Is this America?” (Document #4)
- Explain President Johnson’s views toward seating the MFDP delegation. What was he trying to accomplish? Why did he not want the MFDP delegation seated? (Document #5)
Part II The Essay Question
Utilizing the primary source documents that you have examined and the “Mississippi: Is This America?” documentary that you have viewed, respond to the question below. Adequate length will be determined by how satisfactorily each and all questions are answered. Be sure to address ALL of the questions presented.
YOU ARE THE HISTORIAN
Briefly describe the event that became known as “Freedom Summer.” What does this episode from Civil Rights Movement history teach us about the dynamics of social change? Explain. In your response, be sure to address the role of local people, the role of civil rights organizations, the role of northern white students, and the relationship between local people/out-of-the-area activists and the federal government. Assess the impact of the Reconstruction Syndrome on Mississippi whites as well as the determination of African Americans, who in the words of Victoria Gray, believed that “one of the things that made the delegation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party so hopeful, you know, so expectant, was the fact that people had made a discovery, a discovery that there is a way out of, you know, much of what is wrong with our lives.” Would you say that Freedom Summer was successful or unsuccessful? Could it have been both? Explain.
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Tennessee State University
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