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50 Years Later, a Look Back at the Struggle for Civil and Human Rights

Despite the ugliness much on display in the summer of 1964, the best of America’s ideals was also fully on display.

Despite the ugliness much on display in the summer of 1964, the best of America's ideals was also fully on display. America's youth from all over the nation poured into Mississippi to win civil and human rights for African Americans in the Jim Crow South.

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"Freedom Summer" is available for viewing online here.

An acclaimed new documentary, which shares the campaign's name, "Freedom Summer," chronicles how young civil rights activists braved violence and challenged racism in 1964 Mississippi. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 17, 2014 and on Public Broadcasting Service stations on June 24. It can now be viewed online, downloaded on iTunes or the DVD purchased from the PBS website.

It can be viewed here.

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Young people started the work of reshaping their nation by joining the civil rights movement to bring human rights to African Americans in the U.S.

Below: Activists registered voters, sat in, desegregated lunch counters and marched for justice. Their sacrifices paid off in civil rights and voting rights legislation that was enacted in following years.

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Andrew Goodman, James L. Chaney and Michael Mickey Schwerner were kidnapped and killed in the struggle for justice and human rights in the U.S.

The young activists came to Mississippi because it was the state that was most resistant to change. The struggle 50 years ago led to three of the young activists – Andrew Goodman, James L. Chaney and Michael Mickey Schwerner – being martyred. Attempting to register African Americans to vote as part of the "Freedom Summer" campaign, Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were kidnapped and shot at close range by members of the Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Neshoba County's Sheriff Office and the Philadelphia Police Department located in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Their sacrifices were not in vain as President Lyndon Johnson and Congress enacted the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in succeeding years.