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Freedom Summer – Then, Now and the Future

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Volunteers at Freedom Summer at the then Western College for Women in Oxford, Photo: By George R. Hoxie; courtesy of Smith Library of Regional History

OXFORD/CINCINNATI – The public is invited to Freedom 55, a mini-conference exploring the local history of Freedom Summer in 1964, and current lessons and ideas to continue to address voting rights and social inequalities. The events will be Nov. 1-2 at the National Underground Freedom Center in downtown Cincinnati and are co-sponsored by the National Underground Freedom Center and Miami University.

Sessions will be led by local and national speakers, and several arts events are included. The mini-conference is free: Participants should enter at the Rosa Parks St. (west) entrance. Visitors are encouraged to tour the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which requires an admission fee.

Friday, Nov. 1, the event opens with the Miami University Gospel Choir performing at 6 p.m. and Dion Brown, president and chief operating officer of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, giving opening remarks at 6:50 p.m.

The plenary session, Freedom 55: The Legacy of the Movement discussion, follows. Among speakers is Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 

Joyce Ladner (then and now) will be a Freedom Summer speaker. Photo provided

Saturday, Nov. 2, Miami President Gregory Crawford and Rodney Coates, professor of global and intercultural studies at Miami, will give the day’s opening remarks. Among the speakers are Joyce Ladner and John Frazier, participants in Freedom Summer. Miami faculty, students and alumni are also presenting. The full itinerary is online at https://freedomcenter.org/freedom55-mini-conf.  

The closing plenary session – reception at 6 p.m., discussion at 7 p.m. Saturday – features Reena Evers-Everette (daughter of Medgar Evers and Myrlie Evers-Williams) and Lisa McNair (sister of Denise McNair, a victim of the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama). Jacqueline K. Dace, deputy director of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, will moderate.

The opening plenary Friday and closing plenary Saturday require (free) registration. Tickets may be reserved by clicking on the plenary titles at https://freedomcenter.org/freedom55-mini-conf.

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