The Kumbaya Moment of Costly Faith: Remembering Freedom Summer

The Kumbaya Moment of Costly Faith: Remembering Freedom Summer July 12, 2014

On June 2, 1964, while hundreds of Freedom Summer volunteers were still finishing their training in Oxford, Ohio, three civil rights workers went missing in Neshoba County, Miss.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary Bob Moses was charged with leading the project that would organize poor, black Mississippians to challenge the power structure of the South and upset the Democratic National Convention.

Moses knew from his experience in Mississippi that James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, who had left the day before to investigate a church burning in Philadelphia, Miss., would never be found alive. Moses’ responsibility that evening was to tell the young recruits who planned to spend their summer registering voters in Mississippi that they could meet the same end.

What happened next surprised some. In small circles, the young volunteers sat and talked. Soon, they started singing.

“I often hear people make fun of something as a ‘Kumbaya moment,’” said civil rights veteran Vincent Harding, who died this year. “But I can never laugh because I heard those young people sing ‘Kumbaya’ — ‘Come by here, my Lord.’ And as they sang, they chose to risk their lives for the hope of democracy.”

[Continue reading Jonathan’s commentary on Freedom Summer in The Washington Post.]

You can stream a great new documentary of Freedom Summer here for free.


Learn more about how faith is informing today’s freedom movement at School for Conversion:

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