110 minutes, 1994 Producer/Directors Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford Writer/Editor: Michael Chandler
ABOUT THE FILM
Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature 1994
John O'Connor Award (best documentary), American Historical Association 1994
Eric Barnouw Award (best documentary), Organization of American Historians 1995
Nominated for an Academy Award, winner of both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians awards for best documentary, this landmark film tells the story of the Mississippi freedom movement in the early 1960s when a handful of young activists changed history.
When Bob Moses, a young Harvard student filled with gentle determination, came to Mississippi in 1961 to head up the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee's voter registration drive, a black man could be convicted of "eye rape" for looking at a white woman; all African Americans were denied the right to vote. The first man to accompany Moses to the courthouse to register, a farmer named Herbert Lee, was later shot dead by a state legislator.
We witness the growing confidence and courage of poverty-stricken sharecroppers, maids and day laborers as they confront jail, beatings and even murder for the simple right to vote. One who joined the campaign, Endesha Ida Mae Holland, a former prostitute, today a Ph.D., recalls, "White people looked me in the face for the first time. I couldn't turn back."
In 1964, organizers, fearing for their lives and hoping to attract the attention of the nation and federal government, recruited 1,000 mostly white college kids from around the country to join them for Freedom Summer. Volunteers recall the culture clash between the largely white, middle class outsiders and the poor black residents whose homes and dinner tables they shared.
Although three students were murdered, the drive signed up 80,000 members for the insurgent Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and sent an optimistic delegation, led by sharecropper Fannie Lou Hamer, to the 1964 Democratic convention. We share their crushing betrayal by President Johnson and Hubert Humphrey which, Moses argues, led a generation of disillusioned young black people to reject "the system."
Yet Freedom Summer helped transform political power in the South forever, leading to passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Today Mississippi has more black elected officials than any other state. Those who participated in the struggle took away a profound sense of possibility and a deepened commitment to justice. So too will viewers of this film.
Connie Field is an award-winning producer and director whose work has garnered multiple awards and nominations including the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, the John O'Connor Award, the Gold Hugo, and several Academy Award nominations, among others. Her films include Forever Activists, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, íSalud!, and most recently a series on the global anti-apartheid movement, Have You Heard from Johannesburg.
"Conveys the human dimensions of the fight with such sensitivity and intelligence and pure emotional insight that it seems as if the facts were being set down for the very first time...This amazing work chases away despair."
"Freedom On My Mind is a story of courage on the front lines in the battle against fear and ignorance. But mostly, it's a story of America, in all its glory and all its shame...Must viewing!"
"A splendid achievement...In its dramatic effectiveness and historical acuity, it surpasses all previous documentaries on the southern struggle, including the remarkable Eyes on the Prize."
Clayborne Carson, Stanford University
"A compelling and eloquent film. This is history at its very best, illuminating, entertaining and disturbing."