It was the year of the Beatles and the Civil Rights Act; of the Gulf of Tonkin and Barry Goldwater's campaign for the presidency; the year that Americans learned smoking was bad for their health and Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali; the year that cities across the country erupted in violence and Americans tried to make sense of the assassination of their president. Based on The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964, by award-winning journalist Jon Margolis, this film follows some of the most prominent figures of the time - Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barry Goldwater, Betty Friedan -- and bring out from the shadows the actions of ordinary Americans whose frustrations, ambitions, and anxieties began to turn the country onto a different course.
During the summer of 1964, the nation's eyes were riveted on Mississippi. Over 10 memorable weeks known as Freedom Summer, more than 700 student volunteers joined with organizers and local African Americans in an historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in the nation's most segregated state. Working together, they canvassed for voter registration, created Freedom Schools, and established the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, with the goal of challenging the segregationist state Democratic Party at the national convention in Atlantic City. The campaign was marked by sustained and deadly violence, including the notorious murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of 35 churches, and the bombing of 70 homes and Freedom Houses.