Some acts are clear and heroic only in retrospect. Often they are dangerous and uncelebrated at the time. Fifty years ago, in June 1964, over 1000 mostly young, largely white volunteers made their way to the deep South to help register local black folks to vote. By the end of the summer, dozens of volunteers were beaten and hundreds more arrested. Some black activists were disenchanted by the promise of inter-racial solidarity and felt abandoned as the struggle for racial equality in the U.S. continued far beyond the summer.
The Freedom Summer of 1964, though it couldn't be expected to erase centuries of racial injustice, took a major, important step in the civil rights movement. The volunteers had taken a clear stand for equity and solidarity.