Race, Violence, and Friendship: Mississippi, 1964 and 2014

Aug 04, 2014
David Riley, second from left, will talk about race, violence and friendship in Mississippi at an Aug. 13 talk at Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor.

St. George — David Riley, a summer resident of Tenants Harbor, and members of his family will give a talk on Race, Violence, and Friendship: Mississippi, 1964 and 2014 at the new Jackson Memorial Library in Tenants Harbor Wednesday, Aug. 13, at 7 p.m.

David, his wife Mimo, and their six grown children traveled to Jackson, Miss., in late June to attend a conference and meet with people he worked with in 1964, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Summer Project, also known as Freedom Summer, which drew national attention to the racial violence and segregated society that prevailed in Mississippi at the time.

The talk will include information about the Summer Project and its impact, a power point presentation, and observations from David, Mimo, and some of their children about what their recent trip meant to them.

The Summer Project sent 1,000 volunteers, mostly Northern white students, to conduct voter registration drives and set up summer Freedom Schools in dozens of communities around the state. David and 15 other volunteers lived with black families and worked in Vicksburg, where he helped establish a black community weekly newspaper that fall.

Because the threat of violence and intimidation prevented many black residents from registering, the Summer Project established an alternative registration form for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which sent an integrated slate of elected delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, NJ, in August, 1964, where they received national publicity while making their case that their delegation, not the segregated regular Democratic Party group, should be seated to represent the state.

Three summer volunteers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, were abducted and murdered in Neshoba County by members of the Klu Klux Klan on June 21, 1964, while they were investigating the suspicious burning of a black church after a civil rights meeting in Philadelphia, MS. Three years later, seven men, including Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, were convicted of federal charges of violating the civil rights of the volunteers and went to jail. In 2005, one of them, Edgar Ray Killen, was convicted on state charges of manslaughter. His sentence of 3 to 20 years in prison was upheld on appeal in 2007.

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