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186 Ruleville Freedom Fighter Like their nearby counterparts in Drew, Ruleville Freedom School students attended classes in a hotbed of movement activity. Ruleville’s project director was Charles McLaurin, the SNCC organizer who was jailed in Drew. The town was also home to the powerful white supremacist Mississippi Senator James Eastland and the legendary movement organizer Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, who lived on a plantation just outside of Ruleville and in 1964 became the first African American woman in Mississippi to run for Congress. Partially because of Mrs. Hamer’s growing celebrity, Ruleville attracted a great deal of attention. At the beginning of Freedom Summer in Ruleville, four United States congressmen joined a local civil rights rally, singing freedom songs and offering encouragement to local activists. Ruleville Freedom School students attended classes in the back of the black community’s local Freedom House, which was set up by activists specifically for the summer project of 1964. Ruleville’s Freedom Schools offered one of the most comprehensive curriculums of any Freedom School in the state. Daily lessons ranged widely and included everything from basic reading modules to instruction in French, first aid, and biology. Ruleville Freedom School students were quickly absorbed into the local movement, joining with other local African Americans in their commitment to dismantle Jim Crow. The ambitious students also began planning their own protests and fashioning new leadership roles, at one point creating their own organization called the Ruleville Student Action Group. Many years after Freedom Summer, former Ruleville Freedom School teacher Wally Roberts remembered his students telling him,“What we want you to do is to help us become freedom fighters. We want to go on picket lines and do protests. Teach us how to do that.”81 The articles published in the Ruleville Freedom Fighter demonstrate the young people’s passionate commitment to the Civil Rights Movement. Ruleville Freedom Fighter 187 July 1964: First Issue Now Is the Time Now—not tomorrow—but today. The Negro people have waited too long. Hundreds of years the Black Folk have been helping build America. Negroes have worked for almost nothing. Black Masthead of the Ruleville Freedom Fighter. Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Ruleville Freedom Fighter 188 folk have worked hard. But what have the Negro people gotten in return? Almost nothing. The Negro has been robbed of his share. He still works another man’s land. He still gets only 3 dollars a day.The boss-man makes most of the money and the Black Folk do most of the work. This causes a lot of suffering. Even the children cannot be given the opportunities they need. Year after year these things go on.But all these things must end.That is why we want to vote. And this is why some people don’t want us to vote. Because when we vote we’re going to vote in changes.We’re going to vote out the bad officials.We’re going to vote in officials that want what we want. We’re going to vote in laws to get what we want. The Power of Non-Violence When Jesus said,“If a man smite thee on one cheek, turn to him the other,” he was introducing mankind to a new way of life – a way of life which overcomes evil through love. If a man returns evil for evil, one bad deed leads to another until one enemy is destroyed. We have no desire to destroy those who oppress us. We want them to understand and respect us. Therefore we take it upon ourselves to love them no matter what they do to us.We will not give in nor will we attempt to do violence to them.This is the beginning of understanding. Understanding us the stepping stone to true brotherhood. Eddie Johnson Freedom in the Rain The spirit of the Freedom Movement reached Indianola Thursday . It was the spirit of the Ruleville people. Over a hundred Indianola citizens were part of a mass meeting in front of Bryants Chapel. They met in the middle of thunder and lightning. It rained and they stayed. They listened to Charles McLaurin. They felt the meaning of ONE MAN ONE VOTE. To vote out police Ruleville Freedom Fighter 189 brutality; to vote out officials that keep the Negro down. To vote in people that care about people. That care about people—black and white. They saw a policeman ask to talk to McLaurin. And McLaurin went on and...


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