In June of 1964, hundreds of college students joined the civil rights movement and went to Mississippi, during what would be called Freedom Summer. The same month, two groups of young musicians, college students and record collectors, also traveled to Mississippi. They did not know each other, but had come for the same reason, to find two old blues singers and convince them to sing again. Decades earlier, Son House and Skip James had recorded some of the best music of their era, but had disappeared. Both groups were going to try to find them, even though it was not clear if they were even alive. Mississippi was a tense, violent place that summer. Hundreds were on their way to teach in freedom schools and register voters, and the Ku Klux Klan and many police forces were determined to stop them. It was easy for the young men music fans to be mistaken for activists, and on June 21, 1964, this happened with tragic consequences.


Sam Pollard