This year marks the 50th Anniversary for Freedom Summer '64 in Mississippi. One volunteer, who says that some people may be surprised that she was involved in the effort, is now speaking to Newscenter 11 about her experiences during that time.
In 1964 Amy Maeda's family lived in Meridian. At that time she was a sophomore at a college in Mississippi. When hundreds of people from different parts of the country and different races started coming to the state for the Freedom Summer effort, Maeda says she didn't hesitate to get involved.
"It was such a natural thing to me," says Maeda. "Certain things are natural, and one of them was voting, all right. I just thought that everybody would want an educated voting population. It never dawned on me that there would be, might be, people who would object."
Because she had been issued a press card by her college, Maeda says she had access to a number of areas. During that hot summer she traveled throughout the state quite a bit where she often served as a teacher in Freedom Schools.
Although excited about the work that was being done, Maeda says it did come with some consequences. One day that stands out in particular was when she was pulled from a class in college and questioned by the FBI.
"Then they informed me that they were looking for the three missing civil rights workers, and according to their records I was the girlfriend of Andy Goodman, which was news to me," says Maeda, "and therefore they thought I knew where he was. They wanted me to come clean and give them the information, let them know where the guys were hiding, and then I wouldn't get in any trouble. I kept saying, 'I'm sorry. I don't know where you got your information from, I'm not his girlfriend. I wasn't with him. I don't know where they are, but you need to get out of your suits and go look for them!"
Maeda says she was ultimately kicked out of school. Despite the difficulties of that time she says that she's not bitter, but instead has hope that people will continue to work to make society better.
"There were a lot of sacrifices that were made, and it bothers me when people say, 'What difference does my vote make?', says Maeda. "Well, to those people who were involved it made a lot of difference."