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Plans Announced for Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference


Phone Press Briefing: Thursday, June 5, 2014 @ 12 p.m. CST/1 p.m. EST

WHO:   Dave Dennis, Honorary Co-Chair and Project Founder/Director of the Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project; Dr. Beverly Hogan, Honorary Co-Chair and President of Tougaloo College; Courtland Cox, Committee Member and Founding Member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Derrick Johnson, National Co-Chair and President of the Mississippi NAACP; Albert Sykes, Youth Congress Organizer and Director of Advocacy and Policy for the Young People’s Project; Hollis Watkins, National Chair and Chairman of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement

WHAT: On Thursday, June 5 at 12 p.m. CST, the Freedom 50 Committee will hold a phone press briefing to announce plans for the upcoming Mississippi Freedom Summer 50 Anniversary Conference.  The weeklong international conference is scheduled for June 24-29, 2014 at Tougaloo College in Jackson, MS.  Work sessions will examine each issue area and explore its context in the present-day struggle for justice not only in Mississippi, but globally.  Issue areas include: education, voting rights, workers’ rights, and healthcare as well as criminal justice, climate justice, and LGBTQ Rights.  Freedom 50 will also feature a Youth Congress beginning on Monday, June 23rd.

On the call, speakers will briefly describe the significance of each issue area, provide details of what will take place during the conference including the Youth Congress and other special features, as well as recognize sponsors.


Thursday, June 5, 2014 @ 12 p.m. CST

**You will need a computer with Internet access and a telephone to join this call.**

NOTE:  To request a Freedom 50 Media Kit, email Zakiya Summers at  For further information on Freedom 50, please visit the website at


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Contact: Zakiya Summers |

Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference                                                                   

May 28, 2014 – Jackson, MS – The Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Inc. (VMCRM), along with Mississippi State Conference NAACP, Tougaloo College, One Voice, and SNCC Legacy Project are partnering to host a campaign entitled Freedom 50 to commemorate the months of 1964 that changed America and impacted the world.  The Freedom 50 campaign will ignite a call to action on the same issues for which earlier volunteers advocated during Freedom Summer, including voting rights, quality public education for all children, workers’ rights, and access to affordable healthcare.  The highlight of the campaign will be a weeklong international conference June 24-29, 2014 at Tougaloo College to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer.  It will feature work sessions that examine each of the aforementioned human rights issues and explore its context in the present-day struggle for justice not only in Mississippi, but globally.  Other advocacy issues include climate justice, criminal justice, and LGBTQ rights.

In the summer of 1964, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Project Director Bob Moses organized hundreds of student volunteers from across the country to assist state and local NAACP leaders and others in Mississippi’s voter registration efforts.  Working under the umbrella of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), those Civil Rights organizations and volunteers birthed some of the state’s most prominent work in gaining and securing voting rights, quality public education, opportunity for work and fair pay, and healthcare.  Hundreds of volunteers are traveling to Jackson, Mississippi in June to participate in strategy sessions, similar to those conducted in 1964 as the nation responded to the brutality of civil rights workers like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and others.

National Chairman for the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference and VMCRM Chairman Hollis Watkins remarked, “This commemorative period will enact a true Sankofa bird experience, enabling us to review the past as we look to the future.”  Encouraging each one to tell one, Mr. Watkins is calling out veterans, young people, and scholars to engage in intergenerational conversations at the Conference that will develop strategies to continue to improve the lives of all Americans.

Freedom 50 will also feature a screening of the Stanley Nelson film, FREEDOM SUMMER, as part of the Conference’s Film Festival as well as other cultural activities including exhibits, oral histories, receptions, and the culminating “Legacy and Recognition Banquet.”  In addition, young participants will have the opportunity to receive training on community organizing and building successful and progressive political campaigns during the Freedom Summer 50th Youth Congress, the largest convening of youth activists in Mississippi since the original Freedom Summer in 1964, which will begin on Monday, June 23rd.

To learn more about Freedom 50 and all of its related activities and events, please visit


Freedom 50 Sponsors include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi, United Auto Workers, Jackson Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, Mr. Henry “Hank” Thomas, Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, SCAN New York, Schott Foundation for Public Education, General Mills Foundation, Central Mississippi Health Systems, The Andrew Goodman Foundation, the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, and Mississippi Black Caucus Foundation for Economic Development, as well as partners City of Jackson (MS) and the Young People’s Project.