I arrived in Jackson, MS today...the southernmost point on my civil rights tour. The "main event" of my visit here comes tomorrow when I'll tour Medgar Evers' house, so I took some time today to visit some other areas in the Mississippi capitol. The highlight of the day was the Jackson State University campus. Jackson St. is the largest HBCU (Historically Black Colleges or University) in MS, and was the site of a tragic Vietnam-era event. Everyone is familiar with the shooting at Kent State University in Ohio, but few people remember that two Jackson St. students were killed just 10 days later during a protest over the escalation of the war. The picture is from Alexander Hall where the shootings took place. I'm dumbfounded by the Jackson State shootings. How could local police justify using so much force on unarmed protestors (70 shots were fired and bullet holes remain inside the dorm) and how could NO ONE be charged with any wrong doing?
The other picture is from the Greyhound bus station in downtown Jackson where the Freedom Rides ended. Unlike other places where Freedom Riders faced severe violence (Rock Hill, SC & Anniston, AL for example), there was no violence in Jackson...the Freedom Riders were met by local police officers and taken to prison.
I'd be lying if I thought Jackson embraced its CRM history. I was excited to visit the Old State Capitol Building and its CRM exhibit, but learned that the artifacts are currently in storage because they are being moved to a new museum (that hasn't even broken ground). There were a signficant number of sit-ins in downtown Jackson during the 60s, but none are highlighted today. Neither are the mass protests at the state fairgrounds. In 1962, local African-American teenagers were arrested because they protested the state's Jim Crow policies at the state fair. This infamous program allowed African-Americans to attend the fair on only 1 day.
The visit to Medgar Evers' house should be an enlightening experience. He is one of the true heroes of the CRM. I'll write more about him tomorrow. I will also be leave Mississippi and head to Selma, AL.