Sally Belfrage
(1936 — 1994)

As remembered by Freedom Movement veterans


Many of us did not work directly with Sally in Mississippi but we hold in high regard her contributions as a participant in the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. That year almost 1,000 students and workers, including teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, writers and ministers came from all over the United States to join Mississippi activists in breaking the racist stranglehold over that state. We taught in Freedom Schools and community centers, assisted in voter registration efforts, and helped to build the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which made a historic challenge to the all-white state delegation at the National Democratic Convention.

Sally was among the volunteers who went into Misssissippi after three of our number were already missing and in fact dead. She faced the possibility of violence bravely, spent time in jail, and chronicled events in the town of Greenwood where she was librarian in the Community Center, a voter registration worker, and teacher. Her book Freedom Summer remains a major source of information about the Mississippi Summer Project and has long deserved to be re-issued so that it can continue to inspire those who want to end injustice throughout the world.

We salute Sally for her lifelong work in support of freedom. In solidarity and great sadness at the loss of a sister and comrade in struggle,


Chude Pam Parker Allen, Stephen Bingham, Cathy Cade, Joan Wiggins Kaluenja, Margaret McElroy, Fran O'Brien, Robbie Osman and Linda Wetmore, all of California; Aviva Futorian of Chicago, Illinois.

Staff: James Forman, former Executive Secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Phil Hutchings, former Program Secretary of SNCC; Wazir (Willie) Peacock, SNCC Field Secretary, Misssissippi; Hardy Frye, SNCC Field Secretary Mississippi; Jean Wiley, SNCC staff; Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez, former director of SNCC N.Y. office


As remembered by Chude Pam Parker Allen

Although Sally Belfrage did not coin the term, "freedom summer", it was her book that popularized its use in reference to the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. Her memoir, Freedom Summer, published in 1965, was the first book with that title. It detailed her experiences as a volunteer in Greenwood, Mississippi.

"We used to meet each other on the street in Manhattan," Elizabeth Sutherland Martinez (Betita) once told me. "I was editing letters from volunteers for my book, Letters From Mississippi, and she was working on hers. We would encourage each other to keep at it. She was a lovely person."

When Sally died, Betita felt we should add our voices in a tribute. I helped her work on [the above] statement and circulate it among veterans.

Chude Pam Parker Allen


As remembered by Casey Hayden
June 2, 2015

I remember Sally Belfrage fondly. She was one of those of us who turned toward Eastern wisdom after our movement days, a counterculturist. She sent me her book Flowers of Emptiness, reflections of life on an ashram, with a loving inscription. She helped me know that our lives out into the world after our time together as activists and organizers were various, and that we all were still one in our hearts, no matter which paths seemed to each of us to lead toward the better world we had dreamed together and, briefly, shared.

Casey Hayden

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