The 50th anniversary of the James Meredith March Against Fear and the call for black power are being commemorated by the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute at the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), located on the campus of Jackson State University. Dialogues, reflections and other events are being held on the same dates and locations along the route of the original march, including Hernando, Sunflower County, Greenwood, Canton and Tougaloo College.
Last December, Keith Lamont Mcmillian, program manager at the COFO, and communities across the state began planning for the 50-year milestone.
“When I put the word out there, coincidentally, all of the other cities in which the march took place had similar ideas,” said Mcmillian. “So it just meshed well.”
The first event, a panel discussion on “Challenging the Racial Hierarchy, Then and Now,” took place June 6 at the public library in Hernando, marking the anniversary of the day and place Meredith was shot during his walk. A hundred people attended the presentation with Mississippi civil rights veteran Dr. Leslie Burl McLemore, Rust College historian Dr. Marco Robinson and others.
“We hope to expose Mississippians to local historians and legends both living and gone,” Mcmillian said.
“It’s one thing to read history, but it’s another to hear it come from someone who was a part of it,” he said.
On Wednesday, at Grenada’s Stage Mill Park, Dr. Aram Goudsouizian, professor and chair of the department of history at the University of Memphis, will acknowledge the 1966 Grenada Freedom Movement. Later that evening in Jackson at COFO, guest speaker Mukasa Dada, then known as Willie Ricks, recognized as the man who coined the phrase “black power” in 1966 in Greenwood, will discuss “The Evolution of the March Against Fear and the Black Power Freedom Struggle.”
“These local legends that we are working with now are helping to make Mississippi real and the history we are learning about real,” says Mcmillian.
James Meredith plans to attend the unveiling of the Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker in Canton on June 23. And he will lead the “Walk for Good and Right” beginning at the Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center in Jackson and ending at the steps of the Mississippi State Capitol on June 26.
For a complete schedule of events visit: http://www.jsums.edu/HamerInstitute/BlackPower2016 or contact The Hamer Institute at COFO: 601-979-1563