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  • Nicole J. Burton

COFO Headquarters

To sit in the headquarters where Robert Moses and company coordinated the Summer in Mississippi project known as Freedom Summer 1964 is inspiring. Robby Luckett, civil rights historian and professor at Jackson State University (JSU) runs the COFO Education Center, a museum to past activism and a meeting area for current social action. The brainchild of Moses to reduce intra-organizational strife, the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) was established in 1961 as an umbrella organization to unify and meet the needs of an increasing presence of civil rights organizations in Mississippi, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and a host of local organizations. In 1963, COFO made 1017 John R. Lynch Street its home and the property is now owned by JSU. A sign taped on the wall above desks with old telephones reads the safety rule: "In Constant Touch." Activists in the field were cautioned to call in every 30 minutes. After talking to Robby, I stayed for his presentation to a tour group and had the pleasure of also hearing Hezekiah Watkins, activist and youngest Freedom Rider (age 13) talk about his experience. On my way up to the Delta, I stopped at Medgar Evers' home, which is now a National Historic Landmark. Evers was the first NAACP Field Secretary and was assassinated in his driveway in June 1963. My heart and head are full. This hard story is our history.

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