By Ashley Jackson, HRC Consultant

During the summer of 1964, thousands of activists and college students descended on Mississippi determined to help the African American community register to vote.  Despite the real threat of violence and death, they loaded into busses and drove south to support their neighbors. 

Last Monday marked the beginning of the 50th Anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.  I, along with hundreds of organizers, activists and students, had the pleasure of returning to my hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, as a representative of the Human Rights Campaign, to be a part of the Freedom Summer Youth Congress and many other activities.  There were several major topics but the most prominent were Health Care, Education, Voting Rights, and Workers’ Rights.

Throughout the week, I was fortunate enough to present on a few subjects very near and dear to my heart.  One such panel discussion was on health.  We spoke about issues LGBTQ youth are facing around physical and mental health, safe schools and family recognition. 

This past week has been one of the best of my life.  Sharing space with Bob Moses, Dave Dennis Sr., Julian Bond, Rims Barber, Danny Glover and many others reaffirmed my dedication to the social justice movement and making sure Alabama and the rest of the Deep South are not seen as a lost cause.  The fight for quality and liberation started long ago and it’s up to us to keep their dream alive.

My final moment of the celebration concluded with the original volunteers, planners, and supporters from 1964 embracing one another and singing.  They lifted their voices as one and sang, “We shall not, we shall not be moved.  Just like the tree that’s planted by the waters, we shall not be moved.”

Freedomsummervideo from HRC Media on Vimeo.

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