I joined the youth branch of the NAACP in 1960's under the leadership of Mississippi Field Director, Medgar Evers. I was in his home a few weeks before he was murdered in his driveway. I was among a group of youthful civil rights activists sent out to test the early waters of non-violent protest in Mississippi. Subsequently, I joined CORE/COFO during Freedom Summer launched in 1964. Michael Schwerner and his wife Rita recruited me during my high school years. I worked as a volunteer in the CORE/COFO Office and Freedom School. I performed clerical duties in the office, school and community center: Teaching literacy, Voter's Registration, and Student Assistance were also among my duties.
Protest marches and voter registration campaigns took me throughout Meridian, and rural counties of Mississippi. I consider my work with the MFDP (Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party) to be among my greatest achievements. The so-called Freedom Ballots that we collected alerted the nation to the injustices of representation, which historically omitted black citizen's participation in Mississippi. Their Protest Voices were heard during the 1964 Democratic Convention via the MFDP.
James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman visited my home on June 21, 1964 before going to Neshoba County to investigate the burning of a church near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The church had been designated as a voter registration site. I did not know it at that time, but this would be the last day of their lives. I do recall that on this particular day, I lost an argument with Michael Schwerner who refused to let me accompany them on this particular "Mission". I have many memories of that particular Father's Day that they spent with my family and me as they waited to get haircuts from my brother.
There are many detail conversations and vivid memories of that day recorded in my Freedom Summer Memoirs.
I can be contacted via email address for speaking engagements.
Copyright © Bernice Sims, January 2013.