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Freedom Summer: 50 years later for Tampa Bay resident

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Photo Courtesy: Anthony Quin Photo Courtesy: Anthony Quin

Before he ever started school, Anthony Quin had done more for racial equality than people 10 times his age.

“By the age of 7, I was a ripe old veteran of the civil rights movement,” Quin recalled.

Now in his early 50's, Quin looks back at his early years, which at times were turbulent years.

This summer marks 50 years since ‘Freedom Summer.'

A half century ago, hundreds of students traveled to Mississippi to help register people to vote.

Anthony Quin was only a child at the time.

“Having been arrested about 5-7 times before I started school,” Quin said.

He was with his mother Cayenne Quin or ‘Mama Quin’ as she was known by many. She was a civil rights leader.

She owned a cafe called South of the Border, in McComb Mississippi in the early 60's.

In fact, her restaurant became the center of the civil rights fight in McComb, which made her , her daughter and little boy Anthony, targets

On September 20, 1964, their house was bombed. It happened right after his sisters 9th birthday party.

Quin remembers it well.

“Dynamite was thrown on our porch. When the dynamite exploded, the blast collapsed the side of the house where my sister and i were sleeping. And the whole ceiling and everything fell in on us,” he said.

During the summer that year, the Quin's opened their home to volunteers.

Anthony, remembers the guy who stayed with them, very well.

He was like a brother.

“That's how I began to view him as an adopted brother.”

Anthony's young activism was seen by millions and not just people in Mississippi.

There is a photo of a Mississippi lawman yanking him into the air while he held an American flag - it was at the time was in both Life magazine and Jet.

He's seen it a million times, millions likely have.

There is film of the moment too. Quin had never seen that until now.

For him, that moment, the movement, the bombing, changed his life forever and it changed it McComb Mississippi.

“That incident kinda sparked change. When our house was bombed it set off a course of events, that eventually led to calming of the rioting, some sort of justice and equality at least for for my area of Mississippi,” Quin said.

Interestingly, Quin said, because of the level of intimidation and fear that existed, some people didn't look too favorably on what his mother had done and their family was ostracized and didn't fully enjoy the benefits of all they fought for.

“My whole family was affected deeply. We all paid a price.”

Related Story: Tampa Bay resident recalls Freedom Summer

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