During December/January 1963-64, fifty years ago, in the Mississippi Theater of the Civil Rights Movement, SNCC field secretaries in Hattiesburg made plans for the summer project history enshrines as “Freedom Summer.” That theater of that movement not only illustrates the long-term historical nature of our struggle, it clarifies critical constitutional fault lines across which it is waged.
A handful of SNCC field secretaries led the call to energize hundreds of college students to engage Freedom Summer, a powerful demonstration of the Preamble (that “We The People” dimension of our national Constitution). Aligned in battle against us, the “Sovereign” State of Mississippi, had effectively silenced and/or sidelined internal opposition to “White Supremacy.” That doctrine, enabled by National Party Politics and Supreme Court decisions, allocates to each State the Right to preside over distribution among citizens of civil rights.
The struggle across these constitutional fault lines sets the constitutional background against which the work of the Algebra Project and the Young People’s Project (AP/YPP) unfolds. Its “We The People” dimension now focused on school age young people and their constitutional right to a quality public school education. Its “White Supremacy” dimension ever-clothed in Supreme Court “States Rights” decisions and National Party Politics, allocates to each State the Right to preside over distribution among school children of education excellence.
With plans underway to honor Freedom Summer with a “Ballot Initiative” that enshrines quality public school education into Mississippi’s constitution, the Algebra Project and the Young People’s Project drumbeat approaches a “We The People” vibration.
The Algebra Project’s demand-side work with bottom quartile students, parallels SNCC’s efforts to encourage sharecropper-demand for voting rights. The transition from industrial to Information economies sets the technological background against which the “We The People” and the “White Supremacy/State’s Rights” constitutional battles are waged. A transition period which puts Wednesday-Morning-School-Algebra into unlikely play as the organizing tool for the “We the People” dimension of this constitutional struggle for quality public school education.
To all of you who stay the course, sustaining and supporting us in this struggle we offer a few stories from AP’s front lines.