7.9/10
171
4 user 2 critic

Freedom on My Mind (1994)

Chronicles the Mississippi voter registration drive from 1961- 64.
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins. See more awards »

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Credited cast:
Ronnie Washington Ronnie Washington ... Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

Chronicles the Mississippi voter registration drive from 1961- 64.

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Genres:

Documentary

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Connections

Featured in The 67th Annual Academy Awards (1995) See more »

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Powerful and inspiring
29 March 2020 | by gbill-74877See all my reviews

An absolutely brilliant look back at the 1963 Mississippi black voter registration drive, with excellent footage from the time and interviews with key figures three decades later, in 1994. Even if you're aware of this period of history, this is a very worthwhile documentary, and whether we admit or not, still relevant today. It made me emotional to see the combination of the viciousness of most of the white Mississippians (who ironically say the country is for whites because they're civilized and other races savage), the lack of recourse since it pervaded society (including the police and state politicians all the way up to the Governor), the absolute unfairness of it all, and yet, the heroic bravery of black and white Americans who risked their lives to force progress. This should be shown be shown in U.S. history courses in high schools everywhere.

I liked how the film doesn't glorify or unfairly weight the involvement of mostly northern college students from liberal arts schools, who while courageous and inspiring, by their own admission could have flown home anytime, unlike the African-Americans they were helping. The leadership and eloquence of Bob Moses is truly inspiring, as is the thoughtful commentary of those who joined the movement. The arc of Endesha Ida Mae Holland, raped by her white employer on her 11th birthday (which she says was commonplace), and speaking of harsh truths in her life through a smile, is delightful. Curtis Hayes speaks with soulful intensity, Marshall Ganz from Bakersfield, California is insightful, and Fannie Lou Hamer's televised testimony is stirring, standing out among many others. In contrast, the documentary also gives us a glimpse into some of the soul-crushing politics within the Democratic Party, which, even if evolving at the time, was still trying to save itself from southern white voters switching parties.

Mississippi was a particularly onerous example of backwardness, with a cruel apartheid system, violence perpetuated for the slightest of offenses (e.g. lynchings for "eye rape", a black man looking at a white woman in what was deemed an offensive way), and black people denied the right for 90+ years after the 15th amendment had been passed. The documentary is focused here, and appropriately so, but it should be realized that the problem was by no means localized to the recalcitrant south. Racism and the belief in white superiority was widespread, revisionist history was still being taught, and white supremacists like J. Edgar Hoover were in positions of great power. It's also easy to think of this problem as now "solved," and the needle has certainly moved considerably in Mississippi and the rest of America since the early 1960's, but as Cleve Sellars in the documentary points out, "things are not the best that they could be," which is still true today. As the documentary shows, it takes active involvement though, because those in positions of privilege or power aren't simply going to relinquish it on their own. Powerful stuff.


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Details

Official Sites:

Clarity Films

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 June 1994 (USA) See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,272, 26 June 1994

Gross USA:

$71,176

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$71,176
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
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