Winner 2014

American Experience: Freedom Summer

American Experience Films, WGBH Educational Foundation, Firelight Films

In the sweltering summer of 1964, more than 700 volunteers from colleges all over America traveled to the Deep South to join organizers and black Mississippi activists in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in one of the nation’s most segregated states. Together they canvassed for voter registration, created “Freedom Schools” and established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, its goal to displace the segregationist state Democratic Party at the upcoming national convention in Atlantic City. Freedom Summer combines archival film and photos, captivating, creative animation, and fresh interviews to recall that epochal, dangerous campaign, which was planned and trained for like a Civil Rights D-Day invasion. It’s challenging, inspiring and riveting, a rare documentary work that revisits historical subject matter that viewers might think they know all too well and teaches them something new about it and about its significance to them in the present. For illuminating an overlooked but essential element of the Civil Rights Movement – the patient, long-term efforts by outside activists and local citizens in Mississippi to organize communities and register black voters – Freedom Summer earns a Peabody Award.


Executive Producer: Mark Samels. Senior Producer: Sharon Grimberg. Written, Produced and Directed by: Stanley Nelson. Produced by: Cyndee Readdean. Edited by: Aljernon Tunsil. Original Concept Developed by: Paul Taylor.