I went to Mississippi with Freedom Summer and was assigned to Harmony Community in Leake County, working on Federal Programs. Dovie Hudson and her family were my host. I was asked to go to the COFO office in Jackson at the end of the summer to work on Federal Programs, and worked there until January, 1965. I then worked in the southwest, first in McComb and then in Amite County, with Louis Steptoe.
The worked changed my life. It was far more important to me than anything I a naive youngster contributed. As Bernice Reagon said, "I was reborn in the Civil Rights Movement." I learned, more than anything that people make history. I saw heroism that I could never have imagined, and a sense of hope that infused people who had lived all their lives with the degradation of white-supremacy. I also saw what is probably the most important kind of leadership that at the level of communities, where people have to confront and deal with the people who make their day-to-day lives possible.
Of those who have passed on: I especially recall Dovie and Winson Hudson, Louis Steptoe, and Alyene Quin. I was fortunate to be able to interview Alyene Quin before she passed on. They are true heroes.
When I returned to Harmony during the Freedom Summer Reunion a few years back, Winson Hudson told me that most of the houses in the community were built with support from the Farmers Home Administration.
It was gratifying to know that COFO's Federal Programs project made a difference in the community I worked in.
I went on to earn my PhD in anthropology and taught at Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 1987 to 2010 after working on the farm crisis of the 1980s. On retiring, I ran for the Carbondale City Council and served one term. I now serve on the board of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, a state-wide advocacy and organizing group that promotes development of local food systems and regenerative agriculture, organized Friends of Carbondale Dog Parks to build dog parks in Carbondale, and am active in our neighborhood organization.