Convocation provides first-hand account of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project

May 4, 2015

American civil rights and women’s liberation movement activist Chude Allen, a member of the Carleton Class of 1965, will present Carleton’s weekly convocation on Friday, May 15 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Entitled “Just Being There Was Against The Law,” Allen will share her first-hand account as a participant in the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, a nonviolent effort by civil rights activists to integrate Mississippi’s segregated political system by increasing African-American voter registration. 

This event is free and open to the public. Carleton convocations are also recorded and archived online at

The Freedom Summer of 1964 is also known as the Mississippi Summer Project, and was a campaign to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi, a place that had historically excluded most blacks from voting. In 1962, less than 7% of the state’s eligible black voters were registered to vote. The project also set up dozens of Freedom schools and houses, along with community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population. 

In her junior year as a student at Carleton, Allen was one of 13 white exchange students at Spelman College in Atlanta in Spring 1964. There she attended a seminar on nonviolence by Staughton Lynd, the director of the Freedom Schools in Mississippi, and became involved with the Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights. She volunteered as a Freedom School teacher in Holly Springs, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer, and upon returning to Carleton for her senior year, she was an activist on campus and spoke for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. 

Allen became a key activist in the women’s liberation movement and advocated for greater attention to be given to racism within the movement. She co-founded New York Radical Women with Shulamith Firestone in 1967 and she later worked for The Guardian in early 1968. Allen also wrote an influential pamphlet entitled, Free Space: A perspective on the Small Group in Women’s Liberation, in which she outlined a four-stage method of consciousness-raising. 

Allen is author of Free Space, A Perspective on the Small Group in Women’s Liberation, and wrote the chapter, “Woman Suffrage: Feminism and White Supremacy” in Reluctant Reformers: Racism and Social Reform Movements in the United States. In 1977 she became editor of Union WAGE, the newspaper of Union Women’s Alliance to Gain Equality. She wrote Jean Maddox: Labor Heroine and co-edited ORGANIZE! A Working Woman’s Handbook and Woman Controlled Conception. Allen began organizing women’s groups in 1967, first in New York City, and then in San Francisco. She taught workshops and seminars on racism and white supremacy for women’s liberation groups and conferences. 

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Convocations Committee. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First and College Streets in Northfield.