And the speakers teach us so much more. There are no landmarks this morning and no museums. Instead we have an opportunity to meet Mississippi civil rights veterans who have spent their lives in the Movement. Again, I have an oppotunity to meet the people who lead the way in the Civil Rights Movement. Two of the speakers, Charles McLaurin and Ed King are from Mississippi. One is black and the other white, which means the white one, Ed King, was out of line as far as his culture was concerned.
There are so many issues in the history of Mississippi and civil rights. One that is unique to Mississippi is the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The Democratic Party in Mississippi did not represent disenfranchised blacks, nor did they facilitate registering blacks. So the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was formed, and they conducted a mock election among the disenfranchised voters in 1964. Ed King was the candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Fannie Lou Hamer, a black woman, was the leader of the party and would go on to shepard the party to the national democratic convention. King was a Methodist and was distrubed that no one spoke out against the murder of Emmett Till. He told us that, “Citizenship bore responsibilities.”
Charles McLauren will be with us for two days. He has spent most of his life working for the folks in the Mississippi Delta. He was a good friend of Mrs. Hamer. He actually left the Delta for a couple of years and then went back. “You want to go back to a place where you made a difference.” That explains my attachment to Pineville, South Carolina in 13 words. I’m wearing a tee shirt that says “580 Votes.” He asks what that was about. I explain we had registered 580 voters in Pineville, South Carolina in 1965. It seemed like such a small number to me until he pointed out that they were thrilled to register 5 or 6 voters where he worked during Freedom Summer of 1964. It was so dangerous to register to vote, only 5 or 6 blacks were willing to take the chance.
Margaret Kibbe is my age and a Calfornian. A high school graduate, she considered joining the Peace Corps, but thought better of it. She figured we needed things to change in this country first. She joined Friends of SNCC, an organization that raised money and attention for SNCC, and eventually SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), where she did voter registration in Indianola, Mississippi. She said she doesn’t come home to California any more because she doesn’t think Calfornia is dealing with segregation and prejudice, but Mississippi is.
Dr. Leslie Burl McLemore is the facilitator, but he also has spent his life in the Movement. He and other students boycotted his high school. Issues: there were five faculty members on the student council, there were no public accomodations in his town for blacks and the stores wouldn’t hire blacks.
Dr. Leslie Burl McLemore
That is our schedule from 9:30 to 12:00. Another panel comes after lunch. I will tell you about that next time. I’m including the bios of the people I’ve mentioned below.