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Freedom Summer and the 1964 Convention
February 17 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm CST
Join us for a conversation with Charlie Cobb and Leslie Burl McLemore.
Charlie Cobb was a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and one of the committed student activists from outside Mississippi who came to the state to challenge the system of white supremacy. In 1963, the twenty-year-old Cobb originated the idea of freedom schools as part of the 1964 Summer Project. He imagined that the schools could overcome the poor training African American students received in underfunded Mississippi public schools, teach new lessons about African American history and culture, and provide lessons in citizenship, including ways of organizing and protesting. Like many activists, Cobb experienced intimidation: he was arrested about a dozen times, and he and other activists faced gunfire in the Mississippi Delta.
Leslie Burl McLemore, political scientist, civil rights activist, director of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy at Jackson State University, and Jackson City Council president, attributes his earliest political consciousness to the influence of his maternal grandfather, Leslie Williams, a store owner. whose political acumen helped him navigate Jim Crow laws. In 1962, after leading local demonstrations for integration and access to the ballot, McLemore became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, working on voter registration campaigns in Benton, Marshall, Tate, and De Soto Counties. As the northern regional coordinator for the 1963 Freedom Vote campaign, he was named to the executive committee of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. McLemore also served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, where the Freedom Democratic Party challenged the seating of the all-white delegation from the Mississippi Democratic Party.