Celebrating Freedom

Celebrating Freedom

Understanding the Past, Building the Future

2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the summer of 1964, when more than 800 volunteers gathered at the Western College (now part of Miami’s campus) to train and prepare for registering African American voters in Mississippi. That fateful Freedom Summer became the catalyst for much progress and change in our nation.

Culminating in October's 50th Anniversary Conference, a university-wide, year-long event, Celebrating Freedom: Understanding the Past, Building the Future, provided an opportunity to reflect on the progress made and the efforts yet to come in the United States and globally to ensure the freedom and dignity of all people. The Celebration focused on issues and topics such as civil rights, immigration, voting rights, women’s rights, gay rights, freedom of speech, human rights, and others—all related to the basic right of freedom.

50th Anniversary Conference

Miamian's hold hands and sing during the conference

Take a look back at the 50th Anniversary Freedom Summer Conference and Reunion, held October 11–14, 2014. Featuring several guest lecturers and panelists, scholars, students, and community members gathered to explore civil rights and celebrate Freedom Summer as a model for change and progress.

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Exhibition and Gallery Talk

Miami Women's College lawn

Faces of Freedom Summer: The Photographs of Herbert Randall

This milestone anniversary exhibition commemorating the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Project features over 100 photos printed from the original negatives taken by photojournalist Herbert Randall. Exhibition features also include the documents distributed to trainees and a documentary about the photographer.

Visit Miami's digital archives to learn more »

One Perspective

John Swann portrait

When John Swann moved into Collins Hall in 1961, life changed drastically for the African-American freshman from West Virginia.

Featured in the Summer 2014 edition of Miamian, Swann reflects on his years as a colored-negro-black student on campus during the changing 1960s.

Freedom Summer Memorial

Freedom Summer Memorial Amphitheater

Tucked into one of the grassy hills composing Western Campus at Miami University there lies a magnificent stone monument dedicated to the Freedom Summer of 1964.

The grassy bank was chosen because no excavating needed to be done and the proximity both to Peabody Hall and Kumler Chapel seemed to combine the right mix of educational and spiritual properties. From this location, the memorial was also visible from the road. The color of the rocks matches most of the architecture on Western Campus, but the pieces of limestone are meant to convey a story. 

Dedicated in 2000, it honors three civil rights workers — James Chaney, 21; Andrew Goodman, 20; and Michael Schwerner, 24 — murdered in Mississippi while registering black voters. The three were among 800 activists who trained on the then-Western College for Women campus in the summer of 1964 before heading south. At the memorial’s groundbreaking, Miami and NAACP officials said, "It’s important for young people to know the sacrifices of those who fought for a fairer, more just society." Three trees were planted near the memorial as living tributes to the young men.

Take a walking tour of the Freedom Summer site using an interactive app updated recently by three Miami seniors. The app taps into a mobile device and GPS technology to transport you to 1964.

Take a Look Back at Freedom Summer

Bob Moses speaking to an auditorium full of people

Freedom Summer organizer Bob Moses talks to volunteers at an orientation in Peabody Hall, Western College for Women, now part of Miami's Western campus (photo Ted Polumbaum, Newseum Collection).

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 Freedom Summer volunteers sitting on the lawn and sitting

Freedom Summer workers and volunteers gather to sing outside of Clawson Hall (photo by George R. Hoxie; courtesy of Smith Library of Regional History).

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Freedom Summer Trainees curled up on the ground practicing non-violent resistance

Volunteers practice non-violent resistance during Freedom Summer training at Western College for Women (photo by Ted Polumbaum, Newseum Collection).

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Civil rights activists holding hands and singing next to a bus

Singing "We Shall Overcome", this group of Freedom Summer volunteers begins its journey from Oxford, Ohio to Mississippi. Despite the dangers, more than 1,000 college students volunteered to canvass, teach and establish community centers (photo Ted Polumbaum, Newseum Collection).

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