Pictured above (l-r) are: First Row: Ronald Scott; James W. Dye, Pastor Mt. Zion United Methodist Church; Ty'ron Little. Second row: Michael Hakes-Rodriguez; David Sickey, Tribal Chairman, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana; Randi Thomas. Third row: Briana Porter and Lauren Poythress. Fourth row: Hannah Specogna; James A. Young, Mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi; and Jannie Kamara.
Pictured above (l-r) are: First Row: Ronald Scott; James W. Dye, Pastor Mt. Zion United Methodist Church; Ty'ron Little. Second row: Michael Hakes-Rodriguez; David Sickey, Tribal Chairman, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana; Randi Thomas. Third row: Briana Porter and Lauren Poythress. Fourth row: Hannah Specogna; James A. Young, Mayor of Philadelphia, Mississippi; and Jannie Kamara.
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Miami honors Mt. Zion United Methodist Church with Freedom Summer of '64 Award

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Attendees sing during the award ceremony in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Representatives of Miami University traveled this week to Mississippi to present the Freedom Summer of ’64 Award to Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Fifty-five years ago, three Freedom Summer volunteers left Oxford, Ohio, to investigate an arson at the historic church and then disappeared.

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Memorial commemorates the three Freedom Summer volunteers who lost their lives in 1964.

Mt. Zion annually marks the June 21 anniversary of the disappearance and murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, whose bodies were found six weeks later, victims of the Ku Klux Klan.

Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner and nearly 800 volunteers trained in 1964 at the Western College for Women, which now is part of Miami University. The volunteers then left to register black voters in the south. 

Last year, Miami introduced the Freedom of ’64 award by honoring Rep. John Lewis.

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The Freedom Summer of '64 Award

Award established to remember

Speaking during the memorial service, Ronald Scott, vice president for diversity and inclusion at Miami, said what Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner wanted for us was to never forget and join the struggle.

"The struggle continues with the next generation," he said. "It continues because of what you, the members of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, have done for the last 55 years. You have kept the memory and the dream alive. You have, without any hesitation, without any reward, simply in the name of honor and justice and freedom and doing what is right, continued a legacy. You have taught us and showed all of us we should not forget. And, when we come together, we can move toward that dream."

The church’s memorial was a preconference activity for the 2019 National Civil Rights Conference, which continued the following two days in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Miami faculty, staff and students attended the conference.

Presenting were:

  • Simran Kaur, Nytasia Hicks and Hannah Stohry, “An Overview of Truth and Reconciliation.”
  • Anthony James and Valerie Robinson, “Micro/Grassroots Approach to Truth and Reconciliation.”
  • Xiuhan Chen, Rachel McMillan and Tiffany Vlachos, “Measurable Outcomes and Realistic Goals for the Process of Truth and Reconciliation.”
  • Ronald Scott and Jacqueline Johnson, “Celebrating Freedom Diversity and Inclusion: The Western Miami Merger.”

Miami permanently honors the legacy of these and all Freedom Summer volunteers with an outdoor classroom, dedicated artwork and historic marker on its Western campus. For the 50th anniversary, Miami hosted a conference, an art exhibit and historic tours. 
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Mt. Zion United Methodist Church marks the June 21 anniversary of the disappearance and murder of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.