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Mississippi Summer of 1964: A Santa Clara County judge recalls voting rights struggle

“Mississippi Summer of 1964: A Santa Clara County judge recalls voting rights struggle,” San Jose Mercury News, by Len Edwards, June 19, 2014.

july 2014 edwardsIn 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:

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.

-Len Edwards