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Freedom Summer Anniversary Program Highlights History of the Vote, Civil Rights Act

October 06, 2014

Fifty years after Freedom Summer, which set the stage for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the Lasell community heard from two voices familiar with the issues of the time in a special talk at de Witt Hall.

Clifton Reed, a former Tuskegee air force pilot and educator, and Dr. David Trimble, a Freedom Summer participant and psychologist, spoke about their experiences during that period 50 years ago in a program October 6 sponsored by The Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies, the Donahue Center for Values and Public Life, the Honors Program, the Humanities Department and Psychology Department.

Reed gave the audience a historical context for the efforts to support the civil rights movement in the deep South and establish the vote for African Americans. Trimble, who was among a group of college students from the Northeast to volunteer during the Summer of 1964, spoke about the culture in Mississippi - where he was based - and the commitment to civil rights for all.

"There was a Civil Rights Movement but it basically stopped at the Mississippi border," said Trimble.

Trimble set the scene of Mississippi at the time, when three college students who volunteered to support the registration of black voters had disappeared and were found dead.

"We knew this was real but we believed in what we were doing," Trimble added.

He also described a recent trip to Mississippi and the massive change in politics and the public attitude, which he attributed to the election and involvement of African Americans in government and business there.  "The public space has changed," he said.

He also encouraged students in the audience to become involved in social change.

"You can make a difference," he said.