Remembrances of Freedom School Students

Jacqulyn Reed Cockfield
Meridian Freedom School

During the summer of 1964, FREEDOM SUMMER, I was fortunate enough to be recruited by local activists to attend the COFO sponsored Freedom School in Meridian, Mississippi. I was fourteen during that summer. Attending Freedom School was a life changing event for me a poor, Black youngster. While I attended catholic school all my life, the first White adults, other than Catholic school nuns, to say a kind word to me were Freedom School teachers such as Gail Falk, Mark Levy and others.

This experience awakened an abiding desire in me to become more knowledgable of the entire civil rights movement. Since 1964, I have worked for the National Urban League and served as a volunteer in the NAACP. Each year during the first weekend in march I travel to Selma, AL and participate in the reenactment of the Voting Rights March in Selma, Alabama.

Zellie Rainey Orr
Indianola Freedom School

Although, the '64 Freedom Summer Movement focus was on registering blacks to vote, I am ETERNALLY grateful Freedom Schools were a part of the project.

I was thirteen the Summer of 1964 when the first contingent of civil rights workers — Gretchen Schwarz and Charles Scattergood (both white) and John Harris (a Negro) moved into our Indianola community. They moved into the "host home" of Mrs. Irene Magruder who lived two houses down from me on Byas Street. Thus it was the courageous Mrs. Magruder who turned the community into a sort of "underground railroad". This time, blacks that provided the influx of transients, primarily white, food and lodging.

Although I was afraid, I participated in some of the demonstrations and marches. However, it was attending the Indianola Freedom School where I was first introduced to books written by blacks, that significantly changed my life. As far back as I can remember, since around fourth grade, I loved to write!!! I now know, it was an innate gift I was destined to use

Thus, it was no less divine providence my, and Georgiana Kaminsky's, paths crossed. She was one of the white teachers at the Freedom School. Having read some of my poetry, she was the first ever to congratulate me...and encourage me to write. That spark gave rise to my career today as a freelance, published, award-winning poet, writer and researcher.

I am forever indebted to the Mississippi Freedom Summer Movement for enlightening me to my gift, and for invoking within me the courage to persist.

To God be the praise!

Emily Rembert
McComb Freedom School

I Aided in printing papers and flyers for voting. I was also a COFO School student, where I assisted my freedom rider instructors with day to day school activities. My favorite class was literature, because we had the opportunity to analyze the speeches of Malcolm X and other Black leaders. My saddest memory of those times was when our COFO School was bombed, with a direct hit to our school library.

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