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Highlights Archives

Society Creates Exhibit for Milwaukee Schools

An elderly woman approaches the steps at Leflore County Courthouse, Mississippi, 1964
WHI 104914

Thanks to a grant from the Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation, the Society will share a major civil rights exhibit with Milwaukee-area schools during 2014. The exhibit tells the story of 1964's Freedom Summer project, when a handful of activists led 900 northern volunteers and thousands of Mississippi's black residents in an assault on the state's segregated political system. Hundreds were jailed, beaten, bombed, and shot for trying to secure basic constitutional rights. The murder of three civil rights workers on the project's first day was fictionalized in the 1988 film, "Mississippi Burning."

Detailing the Summer's Major Events

A young man at a nighttime civil rights rally, 1964
A young man at a nighttime civil
rights rally, 1964 WHI 98097
The Freedom Summer exhibit for young people displays 70 manuscripts, photos, articles and other documents from the Society's well-known civil rights collections on 16 free-standing banners. A running narrative explains the summer's major events. A companion website showing all the documents is available at where students can view more information on their phones or tablets while viewing the exhibit.

Six Milwaukee-area secondary schools have so far booked the exhibit for two-week periods between March and December. Teachers will be provided with lesson plans and suggestions for classroom activities that tie Freedom Summer to students' own lives. Some will also make it available to their communities through evening programs. Teachers at Riverside High School in Milwaukee and Nicolet High School in Glendale intend to involve their students in collaborations that bring inner-city and suburban students together to discuss civil rights issues.

Other Exhibit Venues

The exhibit will be at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum April 1-15 and at Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee May 16-June 6 so classes in other schools can make field trips to view it. It will also be installed at the statewide National History Day event in Madison on Saturday, May 3, so hundreds of families from around the state can view it.

When schools are closed for the summer, the exhibit will be open to the general public at the following venues:

  • July 1-18: Milwaukee Public Library, 814 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
  • July 19-August 10: Racine Public Library, 75 7th St, Racine
  • August 11-29: Wisconsin Black Historical Society Museum, 2620 W Center St, Milwaukee

The exhibit will also be shown at the nation's 50th-anniversary commemoration in Jackson, Mississippi, June 25-29.

More Freedom Summer Resources

A few two-week slots for schools to host the exhibit are still available for fall. Teachers should contact Michael Edmonds for details.

:: Posted February 13, 2014

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