“Mississippi Summer of 1964: A Santa Clara County judge recalls voting rights struggle,” San Jose Mercury News, by Len Edwards, June 19, 2014.
In the summer of 1964, Len Edwards, then a law student at the University of Chicago, traveled to Mississippi to participate in voter registration efforts in the Delta area. He lived in Ruleville next door to the famous organizer Fannie Lou Hamer, with whom he worked closely. Edwards spent the summer driving voters to register at the county courthouse, and also in a publicity campaign for civil rights across the state, which he undertook jointly with his father, Congressman Edwards. In this column, he discusses the organizing work of 1964, as well as current social and political issues related to civil rights.
Judge Edwards is retired from Santa Clara County Superior Court and was interviewed for the Mississippi Freedom Project in June 2014. His interview is archived as MFP 180 Leonard Edwards 6-27-2014.
For more information about the Mississippi Freedom Project and 2014 research trip:
- Browse the Mississippi Freedom Project oral history archive online at the University of Florida Digital Collections.
- Explore the Mississippi Freedom Project website through the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.
- Read the newly-released edited volume of 60+ Mississippi Freedom Project oral histories, “I Never Will Forget,” published for the Freedom Summer reunion with sponsorship from partners at the UF Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, Center for Undergraduate Research, Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere, Department of History, Milbauer Program in Southern History, African American Studies Program, Phi Alpha Theta chapter, and George A. Smathers Libraries.
- Check out coverage of the historic fieldwork trip from the Gainesville Sun, “UF students travel to interview veterans of 1964 Freedom Summer,” from June 2014.
I worked closely with Mrs. Hamer. She was the most inspirational person I have ever met. Whether talking on her front steps or giving her famous televised speech at the Democratic Convention, Mrs. Hamer spoke from her heart about the wrongs of segregation, and how Americans must live up to the country’s laws and ideals.