Carl Westmoreland was the event’s keynote speaker. Westmoreland is the senior adviser and co-founder of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
“The forum in which we now work and will work forever is one of a global community,” Westmoreland said. “And if democracy fails, it will be because we failed.”
Westmoreland’s speech was followed by a vocal performance by international performer Greta Pope, who graduated from Western College in 1974.
After the commemoration ceremony, three trees at the Freedom Summer Memorial on Western Campus were dedicated to Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman. A reception took place on the lawn as well, where photographs, articles, and documents related to Freedom Summer were displayed.
“(The memorial) is so appropriate for what went on here,” said Miami University alumni Bill Keng, who graduated in 1964. “I was so powerfully moved seeing it the first time. Hopefully it has touched a lot of people; it’s a way to remember.”
“This was a place of incredible values, and Freedom Summer epitomized what we were all about as a women’s college,” 1964 Western College graduate Patricia Spokes said.
Westmoreland said it is his hope that Freedom Summer will be a time that continues to be honored.
“Fifty years from now … I hope this room will be filled again with more white hair, and handsome faces, with more open ears, and that the truth of the sacrifice made by the hundreds of people who participated in that event and the millions of people who made the army that brought America close as it has ever been to its promise will be celebrated,” Westmoreland said.