Freedom Ballot set the stage for the Mississippi Summer Project,
organized primarily by Bob Moses. SNCC worked hard in the winter
and spring of 1963-64 preparing for the project, which was an
urgent call to action for students in Mississippi to challenge
and overcome the white racism in the state of Mississippi.
prospectus circulated to college campuses that summer, the mission
was stated: "...As the winds of change grow stronger, the threatened
political elite of Mississippi becomes more intransigent and fanatical…Negro
efforts to win the right to vote cannot succeed…without a nationwide
mobilization of support. A program is planned for this summer
which will involve the massive participation of Americans dedicated
to the elimination of racial oppression…"
Summer Project had three goals: registering voters, operating
Freedom Schools, and organizing the Mississippi Freedom Democratic
Party (MFDP) precincts. One strategy of the project was to hold
Freedom Days every two or three weeks. On Freedom Day, SNCC gathered
black people together to collectively try to register to vote.
However, SNCC faced the challenge of overcoming intimidation by
whites, as several people had been killed on Freedom Days across
Schools helped the Freedom Days succeed. These schools taught
children, many of who couldn't yet read or write, to stand up
and demand their freedom. The children returned home and told
their parents about the Freedom Days and convinced them to register
to get people to attend MFPD meetings also suffered from intimidation
by whites. Three men associated with the Freedom Democratic Party
disappeared that summer. They turned up dead with fatal gunshot
wounds--one with blows that crushed many of his bones. When asked
by the media if she thought something positive would come from
the triple assassination, Rita Schwerner, a member of CORE working
out of Washington, said, "That is up to the people of the United
reacted to the deaths with a renewed sense of dedication. Their
goal was to take the MFPD to the Democratic National convention
that summer in Atlantic City, to the "elected representatives
of the United States." SNCC wanted the MFPD to represent Mississippi
rather than the state's current delegation.
had worked long and hard to prove that they were morally and politically
entitled to the seats, but the Democratic Party was not convinced.
They offered a compromise of two non-voting seats next to the
regular Mississippi delegates. After much deliberation that involved
Martin Luther King's support of the compromise, SNCC refused the
Democratic Party's offer. SNCC and the MFPD were there to gain
voting seats and since that could not be accomplished, they left
the convention defeated but proud.