Pat Vail

Pat Vail Yearbook Photograph Pat Vail

The day after three civil rights activists disappeared in Mississippi, Patricia Vail '63 wrote her parents from Oxford, Ohio, expressing her fears as she prepared to join other activists in the deeply racist state.

"We are not safe," Vail, then 22, wrote June 22, 1964, in a letter to her parents, "Like everyone else involved, I realize that I could be killed this summer. I've known this all along[...]In the end I decided that this is a cause that I'm willing to die for."

The Mississippi Summer Project, known as Freedom Summer, was organized by a coalition of civil rights organizations that brought young, idealistic college-age students to Mississippi to register black voters and set up Freedom Schools to teach young children about black history and good citizenship. Organizers hoped that Northern white students working for civil rights would draw national attention to the extreme brutality and oppression suffered by the black community in Mississippi.

This exhibit highlights Vail's activism and experience during Freedom Summer. Double click on the thumbnails to view the full document and description. 

Pat Vail