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Southern African American Male voter

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago


Jack Stevens


Wiki Story


Freedom Summer, Voter Registration


College African American Male


p. 6



The Secret Ingredient to Freedom Summer



You may have heard of Freedom Summer and how it led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but I’m going to tell you the story of how it really happened.




It all started when I was playing catch with my dog in blazing summer heat. Skip, my dog, and I were just doing the same routine over and over again. I throw it, Skip brings it right back. We spent multiple hours every day playing ball.



Skip and I had been playing catch for maybe just 30 minutes when we were interrupted by a huge group of white college kids from Oxford about my age. They were discussing something, but I was just a little too far a way to hear them.  It seemed very strange seeing a bunch of white kids wandering around this colored part of campus. I’m sure it wasn’t only me who was confused about what was going on. I sat and stared at the group for quite a while trying to think of any clues as to what might be happening. It was starting to get dark, so I decided to head back to my dorm room for the night.



I soon realized that I must have left my radio on while I was at the park. I heard the word “Mississippi”, and I decided to turn it up. The radio started talking about voter registration.  I had heard the term before, but I had never really understood what it was or meant. I turned off the radio and went off to get some good night’s rest.



The next morning I woke up and went to the park with Skip. Once again, I saw a big group of people organizing their long day of work ahead of them. This time I was close enough to hear what they were discussing. I stopped throwing with Skip and headed toward the group of people. When I got close enough, one person came up to me and said, “Hello”. I have never been addressed by a white man in that manner. I must have been in some sort of shock because the only word that could come out of my mouth was, “Hey”. Skip and I walked back to the dorm room together and started to study for the big test the next day.



Later that afternoon, that same person who said “hello” to me appeared at my door. I was very confused at the time because I had never officially had a white friend. He once again greeted me in a calm, almost soothing manner. He wanted to know if I wanted or could do anything to help the cause of the voting rights of African Americans. I said, “Of course I will help.” He then asked me a question. His question was, “Why are the black folks so afraid of us when we knock on their door?” I said, “They can’t trust you. You need to offer something that they are accustomed to. Like some cornbread or iced tea. That should do it. Luckily, I work at a bakery nearby. I’m sure the owner can spare a couple of cornbread muffins.”  He thought it was a great idea, and asked me to bring the food tomorrow morning. It was getting dark once more, so we said goodbye. I went to bed with a warm feeling that night, hoping that equality was growing closer.



The next morning, I woke up extra early to go get the cornbread and iced tea from the bakery. The owner gladly gave me the cornbread and tea, and then I was off to meet with the group of people. I arrived at the meeting place and distributed the food to everybody. After just a couple minutes of arriving, I was going door to door to many Mississippians talking about voter registration. Many didn’t know what we were talking about, so we told them about the whole cause of voter registration. We had added almost convinced 75 people to register in one day!



The organizers were shocked at how many people we had signed up that day. The main organizer, Robert Moses, asked to meet with me. He then asked me, “What is your secret to getting so many people to register to vote?” I said, “Cornbread!  You must make them feel like you are one of them and provide true Southern Hospitality, like some fresh, tasty cornbread with cool refreshing iced tea, of course.”  Robert replied, “I will share this with all of our 70,000 members of the Freedom Summer cause. 



We went door to door everyday from that day forward until one morning on the radio we heard that the President was presented a bill from Congress about voting rights for African Americans. We started going door to door once more.  The next year, all of our hard work payed off when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


I knew that equality took a big step that day and will keep expanding.  (All due to cornbread and a little Southern hospitality.)






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