September 20, 1964 – Bombing of Society Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi

On this day in history, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the Society Hill Missionary Baptist Church in McComb, Mississippi. The church had been the site of a “Freedom School.” Freedom schools were temporary, alternative free schools for African Americans mostly in the South, part of a nationwide effort during the Civil Rights Movement to organize African Americans to achieve social, political and economic equality in the United States.

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The goal of the schools was to foster political participation among Mississippi elementary and high school students, in addition to offering academic courses and discussions. Over the course of “Freedom Summer” in 1964, more than 40 Freedom Schools were set up in black communities throughout Mississippi, with over 3,000 students attending. Students ranged in age from small children to the very elderly with the average age approximately 15 years old. Teachers were volunteers, most of whom were college students themselves.

After the bombing, McComb’s black residents spilled into the streets to protest, and they were arrested. Nine white men confessed to the bombing and were released with suspended sentences.

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