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In the spring of 1964, COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) devised this plan to import 1,000 volunteers from outside the South (mostly white students) to register black voters in the Deep South.
It was meant to infuse new energy into the voter registration drive AND to use white students to focus media and federal attention on southern resistance.
1st volunteers arrived in June 1964, and were trained in nonviolent resistance and warned about the dangers involved.
Violence overshadowed Freedom Summer → 4 volunteers killed, 80 beaten, and over 1,000 arrested. 37 churches were bombed and burned.
Recruitment of white northern students created tension within the movement. Highly educated whites had to be reminded they had come to help, not take charge.
Presence of white women raised certain issues.
During Freedom Summer, the number of white women involved in the civil rights movement increased dramatically. (Women made up for ⅓ - ½ of the volunteers)
Closeness or intimacy between black men and white women triggered white racists' anger. Black women often resented them, contributing to racial divisions in the early years of the women's liberation movement.
Climax of Freedom Summer (and southern voter registration efforts) was the challenge to the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party.
Mississippi blacks organized a delegation of the newly formed Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to attend the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City.
Here they demanded that they replace the all white state group as the official Mississippi delegation. MFDP rejected this proposal, claiming that it was a compromise that didn't address the legality of Mississippi's organized denial of blacks' access to the political process.