3 Miami rooms get new names to honor a Civil Rights legacy

Miami University is continuing to honor three slain Civil Rights activists.

The university will recognize the three by naming student lounges for them near the grounds where they had trained during Freedom Summer in 1964. An estimated 800 volunteers were trained in June 1964 at the Western College for Women, now part of Miami University’s Western campus.

Miami already honors the three activists — James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner — with an outdoor classroom memorial, historical sign, memorial trees and artwork at the site on its Western campus where much of the training occurred.

•James Chaney Lobby, in Beechwoods Hall.

•Andrew Goodman Lobby, in Hillcrest Hall.

•Michael Schwerner Lobby, in Stonebridge Hall.

The naming takes effect immediately and signage will be designed and ordered soon, according to the university.

They learned how to register blacks to vote and to peacefully resist violence they knew would be encountered in the south. Three of those volunteers — Chaney, 21, Goodman, 20, and Schwerner, 24 — were murdered in Mississippi soon after leaving Oxford.

The public may know their story from the movie, “Mississippi Burning.”

This year, representatives of Miami’s Associated Student Government suggested naming lounge spaces in three residence halls on Western campus to increase awareness for today’s students.

“If Miami University seeks to promote cross-cultural awareness and inclusivity then this must also be reflective in our buildings, lounge spaces and classrooms,” said Miami student Vada Stephens.

The recommendation was approved unanimously by Miami’s board of trustees Dec. 13.

In 2014, Miami commemorated Freedom Summer with a Celebrating Freedom conference and 50th anniversary dedication. This fall, for the 55th anniversary, Miami and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati co-sponsored a conference, Freedom Summer -Then, Now and the Future.

Student-led tours, presentations and documentaries are among other educational Freedom Summer programs that have been produced.

In June 2020, when the National Civil Rights Conference is hosted at Miami, the first time it will not be held in the South, there will be a session on Freedom Summer and some of the conference will be held on the site of Freedom Summer.

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