Part 2- A LONG HOT SUMMER By Charles Dumas
1964 – The events of 64 generated the first of the long hot urban summers that became typical of the late sixties.
The country was still in mourning for President Kennedy. Neither the Warren Commission Report, which identified Oswald as the lone assassin, nor the conviction of Jack Ruby in March for killing Oswald had not allayed suspicion that the assassination was not the work of a lone assassin but aconspiracy.
In Jackson, Mississippi, an all white jury wouldn’t convict the murderer of Medger Evers, Byron DeLa Beckwith. He would not serve time until Medger's widow, Merlie relentlessly struggled to bring him to justice years later.
There was some good news. The 24thAmendment which prohibited the use of poll taxes in federal elections was ratified. Poll taxes and literary exams were two of the primary legal methods used to deny Black people the right to vote in the South. The US Senate broker the Southern filibuster and passed the Civil Rights Bill in June. Sidney Poitier became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for best actor for his performance in LILIES OF THE FIELD.
Other events in the cultural world included the American debut of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and Muhammed Ali beating Sonny Liston to win the heavyweightchampionship.
Internationally,two newly independent African countries, Tanganyika and Zanzibar had merged tobecome Tanzania. Nelson Mandela and his fellow defendants in the Rivonia Trial were sentenced to life imprisonment.They remained incarcerated on Robben Island for twenty-seven years until democracy came to South Africa.
In the Mississippi Summer Project the mood had been set by the disappearance and assumed lynching of our fellow activists, Mickey, Andy, and James. It had achilling effect on our work yet inspired us to move to a higher level. Every action for good or bad seemed a matter of life and death.