Background Information: Freedom Summer 1964

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Mississippi Burning

Orion Films: 1988- Alan Parker (director)

Screenplay by Chris Gilermo

Gene Hackman: Agent Rupert Anderson

Willem Dafoe: Agent Alan Ward

Background Information:
Freedom Summer - 1964:

A civil rights movement in 1964, named Freedom Summer, was a campaign launched to get African Americans in the southern United States registered to vote. Thousands of students and civil rights activists, both white and black, joined the organization, Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and traveled to southern states to register voters. In was in this atmosphere that three civil rights workers were killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Michael Schwerner and James Chaney:

Michael Schwerner, a 24-year old from Brooklyn, New York, and 21-year old James Chaney from Meridian, Mississippi, were working in and around Neshoba County, Mississippi, to register blacks to vote, opening "Freedom Schools" and organizing black boycotts of white-owned businesses in Meridan.
The Klu Klux Klan Targets Schwerner:

The activities of the civil rights workers enraged the area Klu Klux Klan and plans to rid the area of the more prominent activists was in the works. Michael Schwerner, or "Goatee" and "Jew-Boy" as the Klan referred to him, became a prime target of the Ku Klux Klan, after his success of organizing the Meridan boycott and his determination to register the local blacks to vote was more successful than the Klan's attempts to put fear into the African American communities.

Complete the following worksheet as you watch the film.

  1. How is the setting established? Provide evidence:

  1. How did the beginning of the film make you feel? What images made you feel that way?

  1. What was the attitude of the men who stopped the three boys? What evidence from the film supports your response?

  1. Describe the personal relationship between Ward (Dafoe) and Anderson (Hackman) who have come to investigate three missing civil rights workers?

  1. What is relationship between Anderson and Mrs. Pell (McDormand)?

  1. Describe how the elements of sound/music contributed to this film. In what scene was sound most effective?

  1. What was the attitude of whites toward the missing boys (consider the television interviews)?

  1. How do “the rattlesnakes begin to commit suicide?”

  1. What scene did you think was the climactic moment in this film?

  1. In your opinion, which scene of the film was the most powerful?




You will write a TYPED ONE PAGE (250+ words; double-spaced) critical response to Mississippi Burning. Your essay must have a THESIS STATEMENT and be organized into paragraphs.

Must be uploaded to by 10:00 pm on Wednesday, December 1.

Answer the following with SPECIFIC examples from text and film:


What connections can you make between To Kill a Mockingbird or your literature circle text and Mississippi Burning?

  • What conditions in the 1930s South (Louisiana) gave rise to the Civil Rights struggle in the 1950s and 1960s depicted in the film?

  • How do the character conflicts in the text compare with the character conflicts in the film?

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