By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Heinz History Center’s gripping exhibit, “From Slavery to Freedom,” has new touches.

Interactive screens enable visitors to create their own reality.

Also new in the exhibit is a mural depicting a protest in Pittsburgh 45 years ago, led by the late Nate Smith.

But the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement occurred 50 years ago in Mississippi. They called it “Freedom Summer.”

Students from area high schools gathered at the History Center for a panel discussion with three veterans of that campaign.

“What was my family’s reaction when I wanted to go?” Robert Lavelle recalls. “They were scared. They were scared for me.”

Vietnam veteran Robert Flournoy was born in Birmingham, Ala.

“There was a bombing campaign in my community,” he says, “to bomb houses of people who attempted to vote.”

That’s what it came down to: the right to vote in America.

Fifty years later, Sala Udin indicates that freedom still comes with a cost.

“Excel in your education,” he exhorts the students. “But also fine tune your commitment to making this world a better place.”

Just as other students did, in a summer long ago.

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