Students seek insight in battle for civil rights

Published 9:58 am Monday, June 19, 2017

Students and professors from the University of Florida will be in Vicksburg June 21 to interview veterans of the civil rights movement in the city.

Vicksburg is one of the stops by the researchers involved in the university’s 10-year-old Samuel Proctor Oral History Program’s Mississippi Freedom Project fieldwork trip June 18 through 25 include days of service at the Emmett Till Museum in Glendora, Mississippi, African American Cemetery in Natchez, and the Historic Beulah Cemetery in Vicksburg.

The program is connected with the African American History Project.

The Mississippi Freedom Project is an award-winning experiential learning initiative focused on interviewing civil rights movement veterans. The field workers conduct recorded interviews with high school students, educators, and contemporary activists who reflect on the legacies of the civil rights movement for public access.

The researchers record 25-35 new interviews a year for the Mississippi Freedom Project archive, which has more than 200 interviews, digital podcasts, teachers’ guides and community organizing workshops. 

“I think that it’s a wonderful opportunity, especially for people who were of age about that time and lived through it to be able to be recorded and their recollections preserved,” local historian Yolande Robbins said.

She said interviews will be conducted at Outside the Box Business Center on Cherry Street, with an afternoon session at the Southern Heritage Cultural Center Auditorium on Crawford Street.

“The thing I’m most excited about is it really gives us opportunity to document the black history of Vicksburg beyond the word of mouth. We can get it recorded and preserve it and be in it, and it will become part of Vicksburg’s documented history,” Robbins said. “We are on the verge of so many potential losses (of Civil Rights veterans).”

She said the congregations of many of the important churches in the Civil Rights movement in Vicksburg are declining, most of whom are in their 70s, “And they’re the ones who remember this history,” she said.
Anyone who either has a story to tell or knows someone who does can contact J. L. Brown at 580-695-0082 or G. Clark at 662-719-7476.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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