Remembering ’64 civil rights campaign
An energetic group of civil rights activists, scholars, students and community organizers gathered May 28 to 30 at Student Center West for “Freedom Dreams, Freedom Now!,” a national conference hosted by UIC’s Social Justice Initiative to mark the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer.
The historic 1964 civil rights campaign sought to increase voter registration among Mississippi’s African-American residents and expose the daily oppression they faced.
The conference welcomed a diverse crowd to consider Freedom Summer’s impact on the advancement of civil rights and its links to contemporary social and racial justice and scholarship.
Among the conference’s notable speakers were Julian Bond, civil rights activist and chairman emeritus of the NAACP, Angela Davis, author, scholar and iconic social justice activist, and Robin D. G. Kelley, author and UCLA distinguished professor of history.
Strong support for the program from people and units across UIC “reflects a unifying set of values and commitments around social justice that have created new webs of connectivity,” said Barbara Ransby, director of the Social Justice Initiative.
Here are some numerical highlights from the conference:
800 scholars, artists, activists, and media people convened for three days of lectures, workshops, panels, artistic presentations and dialogue.
The conference program featured 40 plenaries, panels, workshops, performances, art installations and the Chicago premiere of award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s new PBS documentary, “Freedom Summer.”
24 states and 34 U.S. colleges and universities were represented among the intergenerational and interdisciplinary crowd.
1/3 of the conferees were under 25, the majority people of color.
Over 300 UIC students, faculty, staff and alumni participated as organizers, speakers, moderators, performers and volunteers.
9 of UIC’s colleges were represented among the featured panelists.
26 UIC departments, colleges, offices, programs, centers and institutes supported the conference as co-sponsors.
Video highlights from the conference are available online.