“Stories from Civil Rights History, Then and Now”
Classroom and Community Engagement

To schedule an event in your school or community, Email Susan.

Who Should Attend

Click below to see an example of an event focusing on each type of audience.

Classrooms: 8-12 and university English and Social Studies

Communities: adult education, civic and religious diversity gatherings

Educators: professional development workshops

What You’ll Take Away

Experience bridging divides and enabling difficult conversations through the POWER OF STORY

Ability to connect history to today, in order to carry its lessons forward to current challenges

Greater understanding of what causes prejudice and what enables change

An enhanced view of the Civil Rights Movement—as an ongoing fight with progress and setbacks

Exposure to photography by 1964 Meridian Freedom School veterans


Upcoming Events

22nd annual Eagan Art Festival will include local authors!

Eagan Central Park, 1501 Central Parkway, Eagan, MN 55121

Saturday, June 25, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday, June 26, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Talk with Susan about The FOG MACHINE
and “Stories from Civil Rights History, Then and Now.”

Teachers and school librarians:
Enter to win a “Stories” event for your classroom or school!


Past Events


Ask the Author: Friday, March 4, 7:00 – 7:30 am

Susan will be in the RHS Library, showing photography by Freedom Summer
veterans and answering questions about the book and writing.

Enter to win a signed copy of The FOG MACHINE.



The FOG MACHINE Comes to St. James, January 18-19

Kickoff Staff Development Diversity Session: Monday, January 18 at 2:00 pm

Meet the Author: SJHS Little Theatre, Monday, January 18 at 6:30 pm

Classroom Engagement with Students in English 151, a concurrent enrollment course with
Southwest MN State University
: Tuesday, January 19 at 8:25 and 10:33 am




Seniors Learning Together—Fall 2015
Monday, October 12, Church of the Risen Savior, Burnsville, 9:30 am
Presentation and conversation with Seniors Learning Together (SALT)

From Freedom Summer to Ferguson, Mississippi to Minnesota, we face challenging times.

Knowing the history of Jim Crow-era Mississippi can help us understand.

Hear the author:

Consider today’s issues in light of movement history

Share her journey from disinterested student of history, to advocate for the power of story




St. James, MN Library Book Club
 Monday, September 28

Flex Day at Rosemount High School

Thursday, May 21, Rosemount High, 8:55 – 9:45 am

With African American Registry Founder Ben McHie

Community Engagement in Rosemount

With 1964 Freedom Summer veteran Gail Falk,
Twin Cities educator and activist Jason Sole,
and Minnesota author Susan Follett

 Tuesday, February 17, Rosemount Community Center Auditorium, 6:00 – 8:30 pm


Patrick Henry High

Tuesday, February 17, Patrick Henry High, 1:15 – 2:05

Lit Writing 2 Students at Eagan High

Wednesday, February 18, Eagan High

Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Events

Anniversary Celebrations

JACKSON, MS, Spring 2015: A follow-on to the Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference is in the works for Spring 2015. Stay tuned for details.

Documentaries and the Arts

WOMEN MAKE MOVIES: Wednesdays in Mississippi, chronicling a group who traveled from primarily northern cities in the summer of 1964, visiting freedom schools and freedom centers, is near completion by Women Make Movies, leading distributor of independent films by and about women. The team includes Marlene McCurtis, award-winning documentarian for the Discovery Channel and PBS.


PBS’S THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Freedom Summer, directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Riders), premiered June 24.


PASADENA SOUTHWEST CHAMBER MUSIC: Ten Freedom Summers, an opus interpreting the civil rights movement from 1954 through 1964, opened in late 2011. It is composed by Wadada Leo Smith and directed by Grammy Award-winning conductor Jeff von der Schmidt.


CLARITY FILM’S FREEDOM ON MY MIND: Academy Award nominee, Best Documentary Feature 1994, Freedom On My Mind, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Connie Field (Have You Heard from Johannesburg, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, ¡Salud!) and Marilyn Mulford, chronicles Freedom Summer and the Mississippi voter registration struggles of 1961 to 1964.

Past Highlights

Anniversary Celebrations
STARKVILLE, MS: Mississippi State University and African American Studies hosted “Remembering Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future” October 19-21, convening activists, scholars, and students.
OXFORD OH: Miami University, home of Western College, orientation site for summer volunteers, hosted the Freedom Summer National Conference October 11-14.
JACKSON, MS, June 25-29: The Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference featured keynote addresses by Mr. Hollis Watkins, Dr. Robert “Bob” Moses, and Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman. Click here for the conference agenda.
MERIDIAN, MS, June 17-27: Multiple events, including: Meridian Civil Rights Trail unveiling, Martyr Commemoration and Bell Toll, Multi-cultural worship service, Talking Photograph Museum, screening of “Freedom Summer,” Honoring the Legacy and Pursuing Greatness featuring Children’s Defense Fund Founder and President Marian Wright Edelman. Click here for details.
JACKSON, MS: Tougaloo College, pivotal in civil rights activity during the 1950s and 1960s, marked the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement with an 18-month series of events commemorating the assassination of Medgar Evers, Freedom Summer, the Freedom Democratic Party, and the Civil Rights Act.
JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History held a National Youth Summit February 5 at the Old Capitol Museum. High school students from across the U.S. were linked for remote participation. Notably, this was the first time the summit was presented from a location outside Washington, D.C.

Book Events

Read “Into the Circle: Reflections on 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer Commemorative Events in MS” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) on the Andrew Goodman Foundation blog Spark + Flame. AGF President David Goodman calls The FOG MACHINE a must read for those who want to really understand the granularity of racism even amongst well intentioned people.”

MERIDIAN, MS, Saturday, June 28, Highland Park: Susan signed books at the Veterans of 1964 Freedom Summer booth in Highland Park

JACKSON, MS, Friday, June 27, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., Tougaloo College, Warren Hall:  Meet the Authors event, Mississippi Freedom Summer 50th Anniversary Conference.


MERIDIAN, MS, Friday, June 27, 2:30 - 4:00 p.m., Meridian Community College Casteel Gallery: Susan and Bernice Sims (Detour Before Midnight) discussed how the Freedom Summer experience inspired their work. Dr. Bill Scaggs, MCC President Emeritus and co-founder of the Meridian Freedom Project, moderated.


MERIDIAN, MS, Wednesday, June 25, 4:00 p.m., Temple Theatre: Susan signed books at the historic Temple Theatre immediately following the screening of Stanley Nelson’s film “Freedom Summer.”


MERIDIAN, MS, Tuesday, June 24: Susan conducted an “I Have a Dream” Writers’ Workshop for 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade Meridian Freedom Project rhetoric classes. Students brainstormed on the theme “I Have a Dream,” then compared their thoughts with compositions written by students at the 1964 Meridian Freedom School.

Book Groups

MN ISD #196 Secondary Social Studies Teachers select The FOG MACHINE for Fall 2015 Book Study Group and discuss during January 15 Professional Development Day

Possibilities! Book Club, Rosemount, MN, September 19—1st post-publication book group get-together

Reading Reunion Book Group with members of Meridian, Mississippi’s first graduating class under federally mandated desegregation (Meridian/Harris High School class of 1970), April 21 

Conversation with Bagels and Books, Rosemount, MN, March 30

Conversation with Whoa Day Book Club, Mountain Home, AR, March 21

Review and discussion by Portland Chapter of Women Presidents Organization Book Group, February 7

Conversation with St. Paul-area (Farmington) Book Group, January 26

“History from the Heart:  Writing my historical novel, The FOG MACHINE.”  Conversation with Mrs. Symonova’s English Language Learner Writing Workshop at Scott Highland Middle School (Apple Valley, MN), January 5   … See More

Afternoon in Eagan, MN with members of Wescott Library Teen Writers Book Group, November 12

Conversation with Chicago-area (LaGrange) Book Group, September 1

Book Group at the Mercer Island Library, August 21.  An exchange with Seattle-area book groups inspired by Seattle Public Library’s Interracial Dialogue Series.


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