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.
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.”
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.