As we travel through the Deep South on our way to Hubby’s family reunion in Atlanta, we used some of our stops as learning opportunities about the Civil Rights Movement for the Cubs. This year, happens to be the 50th Anniversary of the “Freedom Summer” (also known as the Mississippi Summer Project). It was a campaign launched in June 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, which had historically excluded most Blacks from voting. We watched the recent episode of “American Experience” on PBS about the “Freedom Summer” at home last week. (If you haven’t seen it yet check this link for your local listings – http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomsummer/player/).
The program showed that the project set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses and community centers in small towns through Mississippi. Through the documentary, the Cubs also learned more bout the Freedom Riders who were so instrumental during the Civil Rights struggle. While at the Birmingham Institute for Civil Rights, (http://www.bcri.org/index.html) my oldest, Cub #1, was quick to point out that we would be visiting many cities along the same travel route of the Freedom Riders. We also visited the incredible Smith Robertson Museum & Cultural Center in Jackson, MS and met with the Museum Director. This is a must see for anyone visiting the Magnolia State. Not only is it the largest museum in Mississippi that hosts a vast collection of African American artifacts, it also has one of the most extensive exhibits about Medgar Evers, an African American civil rights activist from Jackson involved in efforts to overturn segregation.
The Smith Robertson Museum & Cultural Center was particularly special for us because there was a fabulous photography exhibit on display about the children and teens who played an important role in the movement in Jackson. The Cubs were blown away to see kids about their same age being brave active participants and doing their part to help bring about change. It also spurred rich, deep conversations between me, Hubby and the Cubs once we got back in the minivan. This visit to Jackson and Birmingham really helped bring history to life by actually seeing powerful informative exhibits and retracing the same steps as those who fought for civil and human rights for all people.