Bob Stout

COFO, 1964, Mississippi
Current Residence: Houston TX

I attended the Newport Folk Festival in July, 1964 with my fianci. I ran into some people I knew at the Freedom Summer table. We talked about my joining the project after I returned to Ohio.

Upon my return to Ohio, I decided to go to Mississippi. I had been a teacher in a small town near Mansfield, Ohio. I contacted the Mansfield News-Journal and reached an agreement that I would send periodic letters to them for publication, describing my experiences.

I left for Washington, DC on July 23 and attended training. On Sunday July 26, I left DC with 3 other workers. We arrived in Jackson on Monday evening, July 27. I spent the next day in training for teaching in a Freedom School. On July 29, I traveled to Hattiesburg. While there I wrote a letter describing my first impressions of Mississippi. I mailed the letter from the main Post Office (Special Delivery). It never arrived in Ohio.

After more training and hands on teaching, on August 4, I traveled to Jackson with James Foreman, executive director of SNCC and Staughton Lynd, director of the SNCC-organized Freedom Schools of Mississippi. While traveling in the car we heard the news over the radio that 3 bodies had been found in an earthen dam outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi.

I stayed the night in Jackson and the next day traveled to Canton, Madison County. The day after I arrived there, I was urged to go to the Sheriffs office to register my presence.

Over the next week, I taught with three others in a Freedom School in the Mt. Pleasant Society Hall in Gluckstadt, Mississippi, just outside of Canton. We had 19 students from age 12 to 24.

On August 11, we arrived to find the Freedom School burned to the ground. We asked the students to write of their feelings (see Responses by Freedom School Students to the Burning of Their School). We had a run-in with the sheriff's department.

I have more detail to share and have done so over the years to schools, colleges and other groups. I am proud of my time spent in Mississippi, and have made sure my children and grandchildren understand that my conscience had no allowed me to many any other choice, but to go.


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