Mercer University Professor to be Featured in PBS Documentary Freedom Summer


ATLANTA – Dr. Anthony Harris, professor of education and coordinator of the M.Ed. program in higher education leadership in Mercer University's Tift College of Education, will be featured in the documentary film Freedom Summer, scheduled to premiere on PBS on June 24 at 9 p.m.

The documentary, directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, chronicles the summer of 1964, during which more than 700 student volunteers, organizers and others set out to force the country to take notice of the shocking violence and massive injustice taking place in Mississippi. They held voter registration drives and set up schools to teach African American history and culture across the state.

“One of those was Freedom School,” said Dr. Harris. “I was a student at Freedom School and participated in marches and demonstrations, although I was a kid.”

Aside from teaching, Freedom School volunteers also worked to establish the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Three of those volunteers – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Scherwerner – were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi, that summer. In the wake of their brutal murders, volunteers and locals became more committed to their cause than ever.

Dr. Harris was interviewed for the documentary in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of last year. He discussed his time at Freedom School among other civil rights-era experiences, including being arrested and having to step off the sidewalk and bow his head when a white person passed him and his grandfather.

Dr. Harris has also published a book about these experiences. Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round: A Coming of Age Story and a Personal Account of the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg, Mississippi was released on March 16, 2013. He has also published two other books: Gifts of Moments: Being Somebody to Somebody and Fruits of a Disgraced Legacy.

Throughout the past academic year, Mercer commemorated the 50th anniversary of its integration under the theme “Looking Back & Moving Forward: Celebrating a Half-Century of Integration at Mercer University.” Among a series of lectures, symposiums and other events, Dr. Harris was the keynote speaker for the Minority Student Success Conference on Feb. 8, where he discussed growing up in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement.

About the Tift College of Education

Mercer University's Tift College of Education – with campuses in Macon, Atlanta, Savannah and the University's four Regional Academic Centers – prepares more professional educators than any other private institution in Georgia. The College offers baccalaureate and graduate degrees, and is guided by the conceptual framework of the “Transforming Practitioner,” which supports those who aspire to grow professionally throughout their careers, while also seeking to transform the lives of students.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.