On June 25th – June 29th, 2014 on the historic Tougaloo College Campus, the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer was celebrated with over 3000 visitors. The conference was hosted by the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movements, Inc., the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, Tougaloo College, One Voice and SNCC Legacy Project.
“In the summer of 1964, hundreds of summer volunteers from across America convened in Mississippi to put an end to the system of rigid segregation. The civil rights workers and the summer volunteers successfully challenged the denial by the state of Mississippi to keep Blacks from voting, getting a decent education, and holding elected offices. As a result of the Freedom Summer of 1964, some of the barriers to voting have been eliminated and Mississippi has close to 1000 Black state and local elected officials. In fact, Mississippi has more Black elected officials than any other state in the union. While the Freedom Summer of ’64 made profound changes in the state of Mississippi and the country, much remains to be accomplished. The Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference will convene in Jackson, Mississippi both to recognize the accomplishments and those who worked for changes to the politically segregated Mississippi and to discuss how to continue the struggle toward Mississippi reaching its full potential for all of its citizens.” – Excerpt from Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference Website
“Tougaloo College… reached the ultimate demonstration of its social commitment during the turbulent years of the 1960s. During that period Tougaloo College was in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, serving as the safe haven for those who fought for freedom, equality and justice and the sanctuary within which the strategies were devised and implemented to end segregation and improve race relations. Tougaloo College’s leadership, courage in opening its campus to the Freedom Riders and other Civil Rights workers and leaders, and its bravery in supporting a movement whose time had come, helped to change the economic, political and social fabric of the state of Mississippi and the nation.” – Excerpt from Tougaloo College
Duvall Decker was honored to provide event design and planning, logistical support, procurement and construction/venue setup. The conference design included multiple venues in existing Tougaloo buildings and added tents where required, each re-characterized with strategically located oversized sized photographs from Freedom Summer. The space of experience for the conference attendees, (many former freedom riders returning to Mississippi 50 years later), was suspended in a time gap, between the 1964 photographs and the 2014 Tougaoo campus. The space of the conference celebrated the accomplishments, mourned those lost, in the Movement and looked forward to the work needed to archive the deferred promise of equal rights for all.