The site where hundreds of men and women trained as volunteers to register African-Americans to vote in the 1960s has been designated a Freedom Station by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
In 1964, hundreds of volunteers, many of whom were white college students, trained in Oxford on the former Western College for Women campus before they traveled south to register black voters and set up freedom schools.
The movement has become known as Freedom Summer.
Around 800 people went through orientation training from June 14-27 at the Western College for Women, which is now part of Miami University’s Western campus. Michael Schwerner, 24, James Chaney, 21, and Andrew Goodman, 20, were murdered in Mississippi soon after leaving Oxford.
Carl Westmoreland, senior historian at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, presented the designation to representatives of the Western College Alumnae Association on Wednesday.
The Freedom Stations Program is a legacy national outreach program linking historic Underground Railroad sites, research centers, university library collections and museums engaged in Underground Railroad and slavery era research and historic preservation through the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.
At the beginning of the year, President Donald Trump signed a bill that creates The African American Civil Rights Network Act and establish a National Park Service program to educate the public and provide technical assistance for documenting, preserving and interpreting the history of the Civil Rights Movement.
The legislation would initially include historic sites identified by the National Park Service’s Civil Rights Initiative, such as the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn., where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “Mountaintop” speech the day before his assassination, but U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in January there is an opportunity for additional sites to be added, like Miami University’s involvement in Freedom Summer.
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