In 1964 the Mississippi Summer Project
organized volunteers from across the
country to travel to Mississippi, one
of the nation’s most viciously racist,
segregated states, to conduct a major
voter registration drive. This historic
effort, which became known as Freedom
Summer, helped to spur passage of the
Voting Rights Act just one year later. On
the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer,
this Community Teach-in will chronicle
the progress of civil rights in the last fifty
years and discuss the most recent attacks
on the right to vote, which threaten the
hard-fought gains made by the heroes of
Some photos taken at the teach-in-
At the teach-in there was a display of photographs from the personal collection of former Oak Park Village Trustee Galen Gockel which represent the faces of civil rights icons as well as those of student volunteers. Mr. Gockel photographed these images in June 1964 at the Freedom Summer training program held for volunteers at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.
Fannie Lou Hamer from Ruleville, Mississippi attended the training sessions. Later that summer she testified eloquently before the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
During the first morning of the training sessions, a young woman reported to the gathered students that 3 civil rights workers were missing. She wrote their names on this blackboard. She was Rita Schwerner, the wife of missing Mickey Schwerner.
--Bayard Rustin also prepared the students for their experiences in Mississippi. “You will feel fear, but you must conquer it”. Rustin had been the lead organizer of the March on Washington the previous year.
Unity Temple is a Unitarian Universalist church in Oak Park, Illinois, and the home of the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation. It was designed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and built between 1905 and 1908. Unity Temple is considered to be one of Wright’s most important structures dating from the first decade of the twentieth century.
Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion is a Reform Jewish congregation in historic Oak Park, an inner suburb just west of Chicago known for its quality parks and schools, and its diverse population. The congregation is celebrating its 150th anniversary and has been at the current location since 1957.