Remembering Freedom Summer
I worked in Meridian, MS, as a Freedom School teacher and community worker from June 1964 through January 1965. In June 1965 I joined the staff of The Southern Courier office when it first started, working initially in a little office on Electric Avenue in Atlanta, and later in Montgomery, where the paper was published for the rest of its existence. In 1966, I took part in the end if the Meredith March and then returned to Meridian to set up the Mississippi office of the paper. I continued to live and work out of Meridian until November 1967. During this time I covered civil rights stories all over the state, but particularly in Neshoba, Lauderdale, and Clarke counties, and I recruited and trained young Mississippians to report and write for the paper. (granted, I was young too.....)
Inspired by Marian Wright Edelman's work, I went north to Yale Law School, where I was an active member of New Haven Women's Liberation and co-authored an article on the Equal Rights Amendment for Women. Later I moved to West Virginia and worked for the United Mine Workers of America. Starting in 1977 I became involved in advocacy for individuals with disabilities as the result of becoming the parent of a child with disabilities. When I first came face to face with conditions in state institutions in the late 1970s in West Virginia (they were the same all over this country), the values and language of the civil rights movement gave me a framework for responding and acting upon the horrible conditions people were being forced to live under. For the next 30 years, the focus of my career was upon closing institutions and creating and maintaining good lives in our communties for individuals with disabilities.
I have always been grateful for the opportunity afforded by good timing and history to live within and be welcomed into the black community in Mississippi, and to catch glimpses within my lifetime of a world where people live and work and sing together in love and community.