March Issue
March 09, 2015

Film focuses on civil rights

Source: NYSUT United

Teachers looking for resources and lesson plans about the civil rights movement in the 1960s can use the documentary "Freedom Summer" to spur class discussions.

The film, produced by Cyndee Readdean, a native of Schenectady who now lives in New York City, introduces the events of 1964, when more than 700 students, black and white, came to Mississippi to help black citizens register to vote and combat other forms of discrimination, such as inadequate schools and lack of legal aid.

Organized by the Student Non- Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), civil rights activists hoped that the participation of well-educated, middle-class students, many from prestigious universities, would not only bring results but draw the attention of the nation to the miserable standard of living suffered by blacks in Mississippi.

Over 10 memorable weeks in 1964 known as Freedom Summer, the student volunteers joined organizers and local African-Americans in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in what was one of the nation's most viciously racist, segregated states.

The film was produced as part of the PBS series American Experience and can be found at www.pbs.org. Resources for teachers are available at www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/teachers-resources/freedomsummer-guide/. Educational materials about civil rights can be found at PBS Learning Media, www.pbslearningmedia.org.

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