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American Experience presents Freedom Summer

Premieres Tuesday, June 24, 2014 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on PBS

6/9/2014, 6 a.m.
In the hot and deadly summer of 1964, the nation could not turn away from Mississippi.
Freedom Summer volunteers and locals canvassing. (Photo Courtesy of Ted Polumbaum provided courtesy of Newseum)

— In the hot and deadly summer of 1964, the nation could not turn away from Mississippi. Over ten memorable weeks known as Freedom Summer, more than 700 student volunteers joined with organizers and local African Americans in a historic effort

to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in one of the nation's most segregated states. Working together, they canvassed for voter registration, created Freedom Schools and established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party with the goal of challenging the segregationist state Democratic Party at the national convention in Atlantic City. Freedom Summer was marked by sustained and deadly violence, including the notorious murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of 35 churches and the bombing of 70 homes and community centers.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till), Freedom Summer highlights an overlooked but essential element of the civil rights movement: the patient and long-term efforts by outside activists and local

citizens in Mississippi to organize communities and register black voters— even in the face of intimidation, physical violence and death.

"The Freedom Summer story reminds us that the movement that ended segregation was far more complex than most of us know," says American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels.

Freedom Summer premieres on American Experience on Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on PBS.