Skip to main content

1964: The Fight for a Right

Email share

Watch Monday, January 18, 2016 at 10pm on WMHT TV

Before Selma, there was Freedom Summer. By 1964, black Mississippians has suffered nearly 100 years of Jim Crow. Then civil rights activists devised a daring plan to force change. From mid-June through August that year, hundreds of white college students journeyed to Mississippi to register black voters. Using this state as an example, they turned American’s attention to the “legalized slavery” occuring in the south. The entire undertaking was a complex mixture of vision, political maneuvering, bigotry, brutality, and bravery. It permanently changed America.

African Americans in Mississippi lived primarily in poverty. Voting was the key to change, but those even attempting to register to vote risked being killed; risked having their houses bombed; risked losing their jobs. 1964: THE FIGHT FOR A RIGHT uses the voices of Freedom Summer foot soldiers and architects to chronicle the obstacles preventing black voting; the murders of three civil rights workers; the police intimidation; the formation of a new, open to all, political party; and the challenge at the Democratic National Convention. Fannie Lou Hamer makes her impassioned plea, “We want to live as decent human beings in America.”

When autumn arrived, tvolunteers returned to their universities. Within months, voting rights marches began in neighboring Alabama. With the year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. As a result and in a permanent shift in American politics, the south became solidly Republican.

In addition to telling the story of a pivotal period in the civil rights movement, 1964: THE FIGHT FOR A RIGHT gives context to curent voting patterns and issues.