Freedom Summer? Oh, please

Pride month

From the National Endowment of the Humanities (Steve Johnson -

The Washington Post (behind a paywall) notes: “As part of what Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is calling ‘Freedom Summer,’ his Transportation Department has told cities across the state that if they want to light up their bridges at night, they can only use the colors red, white and blue.”

Yeah, I know it’s symbolic, and all that. Still, to dub an anachronistic policy after the activism of 1964 means, to quote Inigo Montoya in the movie The Princess Bride, “I do not think it means what you think it means.” 

Sixty years ago, people traveled through Mississippi to register Black voters who had been thwarted from voting because of punitive laws and fear of retribution. Volunteers also established Freedom Schools, libraries, and community centers for the Black community in small towns.

(One of those volunteers was David Kabat, whose sister Julie – who I know  – wrote about him and the movement in Love Letter From A Pig, which she talked about before a performance of Three Mothers.)

“The[Florida] order — which was shared by Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jared Perdue on social media recently — means that bridges across the state that normally illuminate in colorful arrays of light to mark holidays or awareness events won’t be able to use any other colors from May 27 through Sept. 2.”

During the 1964 summer, scores of people were arrested, some beaten. Black churches, businesses, and homes were bombed or burned, and several folks were murdered.

“‘As Floridians prepare for Freedom Summer, Florida’s bridges will follow suit, illuminating in red, white, and blue from Memorial Day through Labor Day!’ Perdue wrote on X. ‘Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida continues to be the freest state in the nation.'”

The sound you hear is me gagging

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar notes in his Substack column: “It is clear that DeSantis especially wants to target the LGBTQ+ community by denying them the ability to display Pride colors during the Pride month of June. But his ban also affects other light displays during the summer: orange for National Gun Awareness Month; yellow for Women’s Equality Day; and red, black, and green for Juneteenth.” 

I looked for articles that showed what I’ve already seen: a concerted effort to roll back gains by LGBTIQ+ folks, and a palpable fear in the community. Many are from 2023.

GLAAD: “Each of the previous two years—2022 and 2021—were record-setting years for anti-LGBTQ legislation, and the public rhetoric around these issues has increased since then.”

SPLC: “A central theme of anti-LGBTQ organizing and ideology is the opposition to LGBTQ rights or support of homophobia, heterosexism and/or cisnormativity often expressed through demonizing rhetoric and grounded in harmful pseudoscience that portrays LGBTQ people as threats to children, society and often public health.”

The Trevor Project: “75% of LGBTQ youth say that both anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces often give them stress or anxiety.”

Homeland Security(!): “To protect against these increasing threats, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with support from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has launched the LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership.”


From UN Women in May 2024: “State and non-state actors in many countries are attempting to roll back hard-won progress and further entrench stigma, endangering the rights and lives of LGBTIQ+ people. These movements use hateful propaganda and disinformation to target and attempt to delegitimize people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, and sex characteristics. ”

As in other civil rights arenas, fighting against bigotry is arguably more important now than ever. Also true: you think you’ve won the day, only to find out that you still have to fight the battle that you thought had already been litigated.

Meh. It’s exhausting. And necessary, unfortunately. 

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Freedom Summer? Oh, please”

  1. Not that the Left is free of this mindset, but the Right seems to feel that anything straying off of the Traditional Order is Offensive (it doesn’t need to do any actual harm) and therefore must be Restricted.

  2. It’s definitely exhausting, and so awful to see all the good work done over many decades being undone by power-crazed zealots and cynical manipulators. I’m absolutely certain that if he who shall not be named does win the election in November, there’ll likely be an end to marriage equality, quite possibly with a nationwide ban (as with access to abortion), and Lawrence v. Texas will be overturned, too, allowing red states and the federal government to once again make simply being LGTBT+ a crime. If his the cowards and lunatics of his wholly owned sudsidiary, his poltical party, wins control of Congress, this will be a certainty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial