Our organization’s founder and Executive Director, Patti Miller, was a volunteer from Iowa on 1964’s Mississippi Summer Project (also known as Freedom Summer) during which she and nearly 700 other, predominately white, college students from across the United States traveled to Mississippi to support the voter registration of black Mississippians, organize Freedom Schools and work in Community Centers.
In 2004, Patti returned to Mississippi to begin filming for a documentary on Freedom Summer and has returned four more times in the past 10 years. During that time, she has spoken to high school and college students, as well as community groups in more than 35 communities across Iowa. During those years, it became more and more apparent to Patti that the history of the Civil Rights Movement is rarely taught in Iowa’s high schools and colleges and that for students and future generations to be able to respond to today’s growing needs for social justice, they need to know its history.
Keeping History Alive Foundation was formed in 2012 to make Civil Rights historical knowledge more available, especially in Iowa. In 2014, the foundation received 501(c)(3) status in order to inspire more financial support for its programs.
The foundation produced its first significant educational tool, the documentary “Iowans Return to Freedom Summer,” which was aired on Iowa Public Television the last week of February 2015 and again on June 19, 2015. The inspiring and eye-opening documentary gives first-hand accounts of the experiences of six Iowa natives who, though personally unfamiliar with racial issues, felt compelled to volunteer that summer. Viewers will hear their stories as they share their motivations, fears, triumphs and life-altering events that took place during that historic summer 50 years ago.
Patti Miller is in the process of writing a book about her experiences during Freedom Summer and her work with Dr. Martin Luther King in the Chicago Freedom Movement. University of Iowa Press has expressed an interest in possibly publishing the book and has requested a proposal from Ms. Miller.
The mission of the Keeping History Alive Foundation is to create factual and inspiring educational programs about first-hand experiences in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and make those programs readily available to educators, students and the general public in the State of Iowa. We envision a future in which African Americans and other minorities in the United States are able to live their lives in harmony with all other Americans and achieve their highest potential as human beings.