Volunteers sing freedom songs on the lawn in front of Clawson Hall at Western College (now Miami University) in 1964. Miami will be hosting additional events next week to commemorate the historic summer. George R. Hoxie/Smith Library of Regional History
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

This nearby college site is just the fifth in Ohio recognized for its important civil rights history

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.

RELATED: Miami U.’s key role in the Civil Rights movement could be recognized in National Parks program

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.

Freedom Summer archive photo from Miami University.
Photo: Staff Writer

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.

Freedom Summer archive photo from Miami University.
Photo: Staff Writer

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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