Canton – US Civil Rights Trail

Freedom Summer: A Season of Sacrifice and Progress

In the 1960s, racial intolerance, harassment and violence were rampant in the small town of Canton, Mississippi. Yet from the shadows of this injustice rose one of the most prominent and ambitious civil rights campaigns: Freedom Summer. Thousands of volunteers flocked to Mississippi to help register African-American voters and to teach in Freedom Schools, which were established throughout the state. These schools supplemented the educations of those who had attended segregated black schools, which had woefully inadequate resources. In 1963, a major campaign known as “Freedom Days” was launched. It combined a rally and a march, and culminated in mass voter registrations. A year later in Canton, white supremacists bombed the Freedom House, which served as the local headquarters for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Fortunately, no one was injured, but the violence did not end there. On September 10, 1964, the body of 14-year-old Hubert Orsby was found in the Big Black River. On the day of his death, witnesses claim to have seen an African-American youth forced into a truck at gunpoint by a white man. Reports claim the boy was wearing a CORE T-shirt at the time of his death.


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