See also History Lessons in Hattiesburg.
I was a New York high school English teacher and a volunteer teacher in a freedom school in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1963, when Ivanhoe Donaldson recruited Norma Becker and me to participate in Mississippi's Freedom Summer of 1964. Norma and I recruited 40 other teachers, and came to teach in Mississippi after the school term ended.
I taught high school students in Hattiesburg who were active in the Movement and came eagerly to Freedom School. I taught in Priest Creek Baptist Church in Palmers Crossing, then a suburb of Hattiesburg. The students were delighted to receive the new books that publishing company workers had contributed for their use, and years later, when I asked them what they remembered most about the summer, they all said, "the books." Those students became avid readers; most of them remained in Mississippi to "change the place," and, indeed, some of them became the community leaders who made the changes.
I accompanied students to the Hattiesburg public library in a thwarted effort to get library cards, and was later arrested when we were thwarted in our effort to have lunch together. The arrest led to a Supreme Court decision (Adickes v. Kress) in my favor in 1970, and I turned my portion of the settlement over to the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) to be used for scholarships.
I became a college teacher and a writer, and adopted three daughters. I am still in contact with some of my former students and have seen great progress in Hattiesburg during my visits to that city, where archivist Dr. Bobs Tusa is going a great job at the University of Southern Mississippi in collecting our history.
Copyright © 2000-2008
Last Modified: March 27, 2008.