Workshop participants Bria Paige and Lauryn Smith interviews Civil Rights Activist Mrs. Jeanette Smith. Smith talks about her experiences during the Civil Rights Era and how important it is for young people to know their history.
During the summer 1964, hundreds of people, including many college students, came to Mississippi to help the state's African Americans fight for their right to register and vote. The social movement they launched shaped the world we live in today. Among those participants in this momentous event were Peggy Jean Connor, an activist in the Civil Rights movement; Anthony Harris, who was 11 at the time; and Jeanette Smith, whose family housed many civil rights workers that summer. These are their stories. Also present that summer was Herbert Randall, a photographer who documented the activities in Hattiesburg. These are his pictures.
Video for this story was shot by Emalie Cormier, William Lowery, Jordan Marshall and Corey McKinney; editing was done by Peter Chen.
Photojournalist James Edward Bates, of Gulfport, discusses his 16-year project documenting the Ku Klux Klan in photographs and videos with the high school journalism workshop participants.
Photo by Corey McKinney
By Christian Miller, Deja Harris, Zaria Bonds, and Emalie Cormier
Photojournalist James Edward Bates, of Gulfport, has witnessed more in the last 16 years of his life documenting the Ku Klux Klan in video and images than most people have experienced in their entire lives.
Bates documents the KKK as a mean to expose the racism that the group espouses.
“I want to have a purpose here on Earth,” Bates said. “I cannot step away from it because I feel God has give me access to a population that few people have.”
Bates was inspired to start the KKK project after he was exposed to photographs by the late Charles Moore, who documented the Civil Rights movement in pictures. Bates saw Moore’s work while he was a student at The University of Southern Mississippi, studying under retired professor Ed Wheeler.
Some of Bates’ pictures depict children dressed in variations of KKK robes. The youngest child Bates said he came across at a KKK rally was a 1-month-old infant. One of his more memorable encounters involved a 3-year-old boy who was a fifth-generation Klan member, on both sides.
Bates titled his photographs and videos of the KKK “Passing the Torch” to represent how the belief system of hatred and discrimination is passed down from generation to generation.
Bates said he is still seeking answers about why KKK members believe what they believe. He said he has found that racism is very much alive, particularly in the rural South, but he hasn’t lost hope for the future.
“I really want to understand why (racism) is so prevalent,” Bates said. “It’s easy to respond to hate with hate, but I choose to respond with love and have hope for everyone.”
Anthony J. Harris recalls his experiences during Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, when he was 11 years old.
Photo by Jessica Swanson
By Raegan Johnson, Zaria Bonds and Markel McBride
People from all over the country gathered Friday in the Thad-Cochran Grand Ballroom at the University of Southern Mississippi for the first session of the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer.
Visions of the past came to life as three children of Freedom Summer, Anthony Harris, Irene Williams and Debra Delgado, spoke of their experiences.
“Your experiences make you as an individual,” said Delgado, who was 12 during Freedom Summer 1964.
Delgado is a Hattiesburg native who currently serves as counsellor for Ward 2.
Although a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church Freedom School, the challenges and risks she faced attending class on a daily basis influenced Delgado’s presence at the session where she recalled the murders of Emmett Till, President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., causing extreme grief in the 1960s.
“They would have real tears flowing, and I did not understand the significance of that until a few years later,” Delgado said.
Reflecting on Freedom Summer, Delgado stressed the importance of knowing your rights and keeping yourself informed on politics. She said that racism that lead to the civil rights movement has not ended.
“Things are not right,” Delgado said. “We are a long way from things being right.”
By Raegan Johnson
Sixteen high school students from across Mississippi spent this week at The University of Southern Mississippi to learn how to be journalists as part of the Remembering “Freedom Summer” Multimedia High School Journalism Workshop.
The School of Mass Communication and Journalism hosted the workshop from Jun 15 to 22 to coincide with the Freedom Summer 1964 50th Anniversary Conference, which was taking place June 19 to 21 on campus. Freedom Summer was a period in 1964 when hundreds of volunteers came to Mississippi to launch a massive voter registration drive for African Americans, who faced obstacles from registering to vote at the time.
“We scheduled the workshop to coincide with the conference, so participants could learn to be journalists, while absorbing the rich history of this period in the civil rights movement,” said Gina Chen, assistant professor and workshop director. “This is a pivotal part of the history of Mississippi and the nation. It provides a great opportunity to teach the young journalists what it is like to cover a story of national significance.”
Students took photographs, interviewed subjects, produced news packages, created radio stories and blogged about the conference and other topics.
“ I liked the experience we got, the people, atmosphere, and by the end of the week, I know we will be really close,” said Jessica Swanson, 16, of Ocean Springs.
Not sure what to expect from camp, students created their own assumptions of what they would possibly encounter over the week. “ I expected hard work and I most definitely got it,” laughed Lauryn Smith, 15, of Meridian. “ It was nice to work with different kinds of people.”
Members of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism faculty, staff, and study body taught the workshop participants the basics of the field and introduced them to different aspects of journalism. USM doctoral student and instructor Robby Byrd, led a lesson on interviewing and note-taking.
“ It was fun teaching them. They were like sponges absorbing everything I said,” Byrd said.
Throughout the week, students interviewed South Mississippi journalists about their craft, watched a screening of a documentary about the era titled “Freedom Summer” and wrote stories about local people who had been instrumental during Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg.
“The one thing I gained from this group was seeing the bright young minds that have a desire to go into journalism,” said chaperone Yolanda Cruz, a news-editorial journalism senior at USM who attended a previous high school workshop as a participant in 2011. “It was very encouraging to those of us with a passion for journalism.”
The workshop also had support from the Dow Jones News Fund, Raycom Media, the Mississippi Press Association, Canon and JMH Graphics.
View the workshop participants’ stories, pictures, and videos at the School of Mass Communication and Journalism website at http://www.usm.edu/mcj, on the workshop news site at http://southernmisshsworkshop.weebly.com or on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USMmultimediaworkshop.
Students interview Freedom Summer activists while sharpening their journalism skills. Students are learning about print, radio, broadcast, photo, and multimedia journalism. Photographs included in the slideshow were taken by all of the participants of the workshop.
Peggy Jean Connor, Anthony Harris and Jeanette Smith tell their stories of Freedom Summer in Mississippi
Workshop participant Bria Paige interviews Kristy Shelley, a recent Southern Miss graduate. Shelley talks about how this workshop is a valuable resource to students hoping to become journalists and the skills they are learning during their week here.
During the workshop, we screened the "Freedom Summer," which was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and will air on PBS June 14. Below is a broadcast story by Jordan Marshall and Deja Harris who interviewed people who attended the screening with the help of Jonathan McGowan.