Historic Photos from Freedom Summer
in Newseum's Collection
The Newseum’s collection of images from noted news photographer Ted Polumbaum contains photographs of Freedom Summer in Neshoba County, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964.
This image (at left) shows Andrew Goodman, 21, (dark T-shirt) at a voting-rights training session at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, in mid-June 1964. Just days later, on June 21, he, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner were murdered following their release from jail. To Goodman’s right, holding a pipe and papers, is James Forman, then executive director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Forman, a lifelong civil rights leader, died Jan. 10 of this year at 76.
In January 2005, in Philadelphia, Miss., Edgar Ray Killen was charged with those murders. Other indictments in the case are expected.
Photographer Ted Polumbaum (1924-2001) was on assignment for Time magazine when these images were taken. He also worked for Life magazine, The Saturday Evening Post and The New York Times Magazine. Based in Boston, he worked on several assignments in Chile. More than 50,000 images from his career as a photojournalist were donated to the Newseum by his widow and collaborator, Nyna Polumbaum.
Freedom Summer was organized in 1964 by the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), the NAACP and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The goal was to register African-American voters in Mississippi, which at the time had the worst record in the nation, with less than seven percent registration. Literacy tests and similar obstacles routinely were used to keep blacks from voting.
Thirty “Freedom Schools” were set up in Mississippi towns. The response was violent. Schools, homes of volunteers, and black churches came under attack. Dozens of volunteers were beaten by white mobs or police officers. The murders of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, believed to have been directed by the Ku Klux Klan, sparked outrage throughout the nation. More than 70,000 college students eventually joined the efforts of Freedom Summer.