In this blog post I’ll be coving the Bicentennial Bingo game board squares of Visit A Site Important to Civil Rights & Ask Questions About Mississippi. There are a lot significant sites in Mississippi’s Civil Rights and there is a lot to learn, which I encourage you to do. There is also a lot of information and random facts one can learn about this state which should be informative and fun.
So, let’s get cracking, shall we? Yes, lets!
Visit A Site Important To Civil Rights:
This one is extremely sad and sobering and also monumentally important. Visiting at least one site should be on the top of your list, whether you reside in this state or are merely visiting. I have visited a few actual sites and some only partially. I also attended a lecture about Mississippi Civil Rights Cold Cases two years ago that was held at our local library, along with viewing photographs taken during the time, by NBC News photographic Journalist Jim Lucas, which were circulating around the state. I wrote about them and they can viewed in this post. I recommend reading the post, not because I wrote it, but because there is a lot of interesting information contained within, plus information on Mississippi Civil Rights era Cold Cases.
Also, it is important to note that Civil Rights history is sorely lacking in Mississippi school curriculum. Most of these things were only glanced upon (so I knew about the murder of the three Freedom Riders, but had no idea that all my tromping around in Neshoba County or Philadelphia had any connection to Freedom Summer. Plus I only heard about it from my parents, not in school.) when I was younger. Most of these things I learned after leaving school and I’m still learning them. Like I had no idea, until today, that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ever even visited Laurel. My parents both lived there at the time. I have even driven by this church more times than I can count. Why did I not know this!?! So, I feel that is all the more important since it has been surppressed and only vaguely glossed over in our history as a state. I encourage anyone, whether native or not, to learn about the Civil Rights history in Mississippi, as well as in other states. Even if you only do it through markers, at least you have learned something.
Now, as far as the places that I have been, there was The University of Mississippi (‘Ol Miss), but I did not seen the marker or statue for James Meredith. I have seen the site of Vernon Dahmer’s store, but have not seen the marker for where he died (though they have put that up now). I have seen Mt. Zion Church in Hattiesburg, but not since they’ve put a marker up. I have driven through and around Philadelphia, so while I’ve been on or seen sites pertaining to this, I didn’t really actually know (until I saw that photography exhibit). I’ve been to Hernando, but didn’t know that James Meredith, or his March Against Fear was connected with it.
So, now I shall list everything that I want to see. Anything in Hattiesburg is a given and I’ll see those this year. Laurel, Natchez, and Jackson are something that could happen soon (we don’t have reliable transportation). The others might take awhile for me to get to them, as with anything I want to see, but is further out in the state. Here is a list of the known and proposed Freedom Trail Markers, and here are photo’s of most of them.
- Freedom Summer Trail [Hattiesburg]
This is a driving tour of all important places in the Freedom Summer campaign in my city and the surrounding area. This tour does include Mt. Zion Church (The Civil Rights Church marker) and Vernon Dahmer’s house (Vernon Dahmer, Sr. marker); also University of Southern Mississippi Clyde Kennard marker.
- Dr. King Visits Laurel Freedom Trail Marker [Laurel]
This marker is located at 517 Jefferson Street. I’ve probably been down this street.
- Wharlest Jackson, Sr. Freedom Trail Marker [Natchez]
This marker is located at 9 Minor Street. I’ve probably been down this street too.
- Civil Rights Wade-In’s Freedom Trail Marker [Biloxi]
This marker is on the beach in front of the Biloxi lighthouse. I was unaware of the history surrounding the wade-ins in my youth, but I have been on this beach a lot.
- Freedom Summer Murders Freedom Trail Marker [Neshoba County/Philadelphia]
This marker is located at County Road 747. I have no idea which County roads I’ve been down, though I know I was driven down a lot of them. So, I have no idea if I passed this Mt. Zion Church or not.
- Goodman, Chaney, & Schwerner Murder Site Freedom Trail Marker [Philadelphia]
This marker is located on HWY 19, 10 miles south of Philadelphia. Which I have driven this road, and to know this is eerie, that I kept driving past their murder site. It’s so sad.
- Mississippi Civil Rights Museum [Jackson]
This is the first, state-funded, Civil Rights museum in Mississippi and honestly it’s way past due. It will cover Civil Rights in Mississippi from 1945 – 1976 and is slated to open in December of this year. I have a feeling it will be a great museum. I’ve read a lot about it and the people putting it together.
- Medgar Evers’ Home [Jackson]
This was the home of Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers. It was also where he was gunned down in his driveway. It is now a museum and there is a Freedom Trail marker here as well. The home and marker at located at 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive.
- Woolworth’s Sit-In Freedom Trail Marker [Jackson]
This marker is located on Capitol Street.
- Capitol Rally Freedom Trail Marker [Jackson]
This marker is located near the state Capitol building.
- Jackson State Tragedy Freedom Trail Marker [Jackson]
This marker is located at the entrance of Jackson State University.
- James Meredith March Against Fear Freedom Trail Marker [Hernando]
This marker is located at 4243 HWY 51, just south of Hernando at the VFW building.
- Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum [Holly Springs]
Ida B. Wells was a civil rights and women’s rights activist and helped to form the NAACP; the museum is about her life and work. She helped women of colour gain the right to vote!
- Rust College Freedom Trail Marker [Holly Springs]
This marker is located on Rust Avenue.
- University of Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker & James Meredith Statue [Oxford]
This marker, and the statue, are located on the grounds of the University of Mississippi.
- Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom Trail Marker & statue [Ruleville]
This marker is located in Fannie Lou Hamer park, along with her grave, a statue and lots of readable markers actually.
- Reverend George Lee Freedom Trail Marker [Belzoni]
This marker is located in Belzoni (but it doesn’t tell me where).
- Emmett Till Interpretive Center [Sumner]
There is a guided tour of the courthouse where his murderers were acquitted, as well as a tour of the museum that they have. There are also two Pilgrimage tours; a half-day and full-day, which the latter includes tours of the following places: the Tallahatchie River, the Till Museum in Glendora, the murder site, and the store in Money. The last one is pricey ($60), and honestly, his story is just so, SO sad and I don’t like crying in front of people, that I know I couldn’t bear to stand in the spot where he was actually murdered and then where his body recovered – it’s too hauntingly eerie and I’m sitting in my house right now. But, that’s personal to me. It is important to see these sites and if you have it in you, then you should totally commit to the full tour.
Also, if these are places that you want to see, I’d go in a group with these people from the Interpretive Center. I find the area to be scary, though I haven’t been, because white people keep destroying the Emmett Till memorial sign. I am honestly afraid to visit the area in a small number (just me or my sister) where it would be known that I am for Civil Rights or am touring Civil Rights sites; where I’m not on the side of the white people that still reside up there. If it’s not clear, or you haven’t been reading my blog very long, I am a white person. I’m a white person and the white people there make me nervous. Perhaps it’s not really scary up there now, but just be careful and be safe is all that I am trying to say. No matter where you are from or which colour you are.
- Emmett Till Historical Intrepid Center [Glendora]
This is a local museum located about halfway between Money, where Till was staying with relatives, and Sumner, where the murder trial took place and where you’ll find The Interpretive Center. It is a small community and a small museum, but it seems well done and worth the effort to get there.
Ask Questions About Mississippi:
This is a great section, and on the website it links to a chat (during certain hours) where you can ask anything you want to about Mississippi. It is something that I will be utilizing because out of the four things they list, I only knew one… and one of the items even pertains to my city. Absolutely use this chat tool to ask questions about Mississippi Civil Rights among a myriad of other topics. I do know a lot of things about this state, so if you wish, feel free to ask me in the comments. I will either answer or direct you to chat with the librarians if you have stumped me with a question.
- The pronunciation of Shuqualak is “sugar lock”.
- The only two nuclear bombs detonated east of the Mississippi were near Hattiesburg in an underground salt dome.
- The rarest bird in North America is the Mississippi Sandhill Crane. Once down to 30-35 birds, their population has grown to about 110. There is a Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in between Gautier and Vancleave. *this is the one that I knew*
- Marion County resident and mail carrier Willie Rankin (1890-1943) was the largest rural mail carrier in the country. He weighed over 460 pounds and extra springs and adjustments to the steering wheel and front seat were required on his cars.
While the above bulleted points were taken directly from the Bicentennial page for Ask Questions About Mississippi, I thought that I would supply a few of my own.
- Neshoba, for which Neshoba County is named, means wolf in Choctaw.
- Bogue Homa and Bogue Chitto are both Choctaw phrases and they mean Red Water and Big Water. Bogue means pond or more broadly a body of water (lake, creek, river, etc). Homa is red and Chitto is big. Their pronunciations are a clipped Boke followed by a clipped Homa or Chihto. (So you can’t make it southern lazy as in bo-guh hooome-uh or bo-guh chiiit-oooh).
- Homochitto Rd in Natchez means either Big Gay Road, or really it just means nothing, because the Choctaw do not have the word homo since it is Homa.
- A few French words for places along the gulf coast are Saucier, Gautier, and D’Iberville. While they should be pronounced (in the French) as Soh-see-yeh, Goh-tee-yeh, and die-bur-veey, the locals pronounce these places as so-shay, go-shay, and dee-iber-vill.
- The first female rural mail carrier in the United States was Mrs. Mamie Thomas. She delivered mail by buggy to the area southeast of Vicksburg in 1914.
- Tradition holds that Aaron Burr was arraigned for treason in 1807 at Jefferson College in Washington.
- Burnita Shelton Mathews of Hazelhurst was the first woman federal judge in the United States and served in Washington, the District of Columbia.
- Leontyne Price of Laurel performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera.
- The oldest game in America is stickball. The Choctaw Indians of Mississippi still play the game to this day.
- D’Lo was featured in “Life Magazine” for sending proportionally more men to serve in World War II than any other town of its size.
- The state of Mississippi ranked 2nd in charitable giving in 2012, despite having the lowest per capita personal income in all of the US.
- The community of Washington was once known as the Versailles of the French territories and was the territorial capitol from 1802 – 1817.
- Mississippi has had three capitols. The first two were Natchez and then Washington while it was a territory. Then Jackson, shortly after we became a state.