For the past several years, a team of student researchers has traveled with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program to the Mississippi Delta to gather oral histories with civil and labor rights leaders. Referred to by historian James Cobb as the “most Southern place on earth,” the Delta was a hotbed of unrest during the civil rights movement.
McCombLegacies.org is a collaborative effort of the McComb School District and community members of the Local History Advisory Committee who are committed to the research, documentation, and sharing of McComb’s history.
The website and this news blog are supported in part by a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to Teaching for Change called “A Community of Promise: Building Strong Schools and Neighborhoods Through History, Activism, and Collaboration.”
McComb is holding a two-day student conference on the Mississippi voting rights struggle with the people who made history during the 1960s. This special event on Feb. 21-22, 2013 was inspired by the participation of five McComb students in the September Mississippi Delta Freedom Project. The students so impressed the veterans and historians in the Delta that they asked if they could hold a similar convening in McComb to interact with more teachers and students from the school district.
The McComb students quickly learned this was a serious offer. On the day they returned from the Delta, veteran John Due called to start planning. Due, the staff of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, and the McComb Legacies teacher (Ms. Falana McDaniel) and students have been planning ever since. Other teachers and community members have joined a planning committee to ensure city-wide involvement. Over the course of the two days, there are student led history tours, panel presentations, oral history interviews, and a poetry slam.
This event was planned by and for the students of McComb. The featured presenters included Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, John Due, local veterans, and the performance group Maddrama. Maddrama strives to promote excellence in the performing arts with an emphasis on people of color. It’s goals are to conduct educational workshops, support the cultural enhancement of Jackson State University, as well as the surrounding community, to heighten the awareness of theater as a cultural art form in the community, and produce quality plays which reflect the African American experience.
Emma Bell Barricelli was scheduled to be a special guest. Her niece, Gabrielle Washington, is a participant in the McComb Legacies program and had no idea that her aunt had played an active role in the Movement until the trip to the Delta. There John Due described how Ms. Emma Bell had literally saved his life as she provided transportation for him in McComb. Gabrielle soon realized that Due was referring to her Aunt Emma Bell. Due had not spoken with Ms. Bell in decades. They immediately called her at her current home in New York. Her attendance in February had to be cancelled for health reasons, however we hope to connect her by Skype for this historic event.
This two day convening coincides with research and documentation by the McComb Legacies students in preparation for the 2013 National History Day competition. The participation of the special guests and the work of McComb Legacies is made possible with the support of a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to Teaching for Change.
John Due served as a field representative of the Voter Education Project of the Southern Regional Council which sponsored voter registration in Mississippi. He also served as an attorney for CORE and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers. In the spring and summer of 1964, he collected evidence and witnesses of systemic white violence against African Americans in Southwest Mississippi. Due was one of the attorneys in the Young vs Bryant case (representing Dr. Robert Hayling and SCLC Andrew Young), which helped lead to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Through the Patricia Stephens Due and John Due Freedom House Museum in Quincy, Florida, Due continues the work of teaching the history of the foot soldiers in the Freedom Movement.
Zoharah Simmons, a former Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) project coordinator in Laurel, Miss., is a professor at the University of Florida and teaches courses on Islam, Women, Religion and Society as well as African American Religious Traditions. For twenty-three years, Dr. Simmons was on the staff of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Quaker organization working for peace, justice, human rights and international development headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa. Interviews with Simmons are featured on the Veterans of Hope and the National Center for Civil & Human Rights websites.
Local Veterans including Patsy Ruth Butler, Johnny and Michael Nobles, Shirley Bates, and more
Read the Good article on the McComb Legacies....HERE
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