Freedom Summer, 50 Years Later

By Paul Levy ’72

Thirty members of the D.C. chapter gathered at the Newseum to view an exhibit on the role of students in the civil rights movement, taking advantage of free tickets to this otherwise pricey private museum that a chapter steering member had managed to snag. Our guide was Bernard Wasow ’65, one of 10 Reedies who went to Mississippi as part of Freedom Summer in 1964. Bernard described the training, his motivations, and his confrontation with his own fears in the wake of the assassination of three civil rights workers just before he and the other Reedies arrived, as well as his experience living with a local family and doing voter-registration work. After we explored the civil rights exhibition, the group dispersed to peruse the rest of the museum’s voluminous collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, newspapers covering major events over the past 150 years, and other features