Keep on Pushing: Fifty Years After Freedom Summer, Two Mississippi Sisters Press the Fight for Voting Rights

By | September 19, 2014

Georgetown University history professor Michael Kazin is seated among the students for his class, “U.S. in the 1960s.” He has surrendered his stage today to Dorie Ladner, 72, who is talking with the class about her years in Mississippi working to desegregate buses as a Freedom Rider, and her experiences organizing Freedom Summer in 1964.

#The names of many of Freedom Summer’s martyrs and survivors flutter by quickly in her lecture. At least twice she mentions the name Marion Barry, an organizer in Mississippi before later becoming mayor of Washington D.C., and it seems to whiz past the students each time.

#Near the end of Ladner’s visit, a student asks how the movement ended.

#“It hasn’t ended,” says Ladner.

#Ladner knows this in more than an academic sense. She helped coordinate a great number of the civil rights sit-ins leading up to Freedom Summer, and she participated in every major civil rights march from 1963 to 1968. Her work started in the early 1960s with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), with which she helped desegregate lunch counters and buses. She was a founding member of the Council of Federated Organizations, or COFO, the umbrella organization covering SNCC, the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1962. (Jackson Free Press)

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