Mississippi Civil Rights Audio Tour

Mississippi is home to several important sites related to the American civil rights movement. Join Pamela D. C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums, on an audio journey of several of our state’s key civil rights sites, monuments, and institutions.

An enhanced version of this audio tour is available on the Otocast mobile app.

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Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is the first state-funded civil rights museum in America and the culmination of the efforts of many Mississippians, from all walks of life, who worked together to make the vision for this museum a reality. Located in Jackson, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, together with the Museum of Mississippi History, make up the Two Mississippi Museums, a museum complex that was first opened to the public in 2017.

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Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center

The Smith Robertson Museum is a museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and cultural legacy of the African-American experience in Mississippi. The Jackson museum is located in a building that was formerly the West Jackson Colored School until it was closed due to the desegregation of schools. Artifacts, photographs, and documents take visitors on a journey beginning with the Transatlantic slave trade through the civil rights era.

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Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument

The Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, in Jackson, is the former home of civil rights activists Medgar Evers and his wife, Myrlie Evers. Medgar Evers was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and was the first state field secretary for the NAACP. His advocacy for voting rights, and against racial segregation, made him a prominent target of white supremacists. Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his home on June 12, 1963.

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University of Mississippi Civil Rights Monument  

Unveiled in 2006, the University of Mississippi Civil Rights Monument features a life-size bronze statue of James Meredith walking toward a limestone portal inscribed with the words “courage,” “knowledge,” “opportunity,” and “perseverance.” James Meredith was the first African-American student to attend the University of Mississippi, where he completed a political science degree despite massive protests and a deadly riot protesting his enrollment.

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Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden

The Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden, in Ruleville, celebrates the life and accomplishments of one of the civil rights era’s greatest voices. Fannie Lou Hamer rose from humble beginnings, as a sharecropper in Sunflower County, to become a leader of the civil rights movement – and a champion for voting rights and women’s rights in America. Fannie Lou Hamer is buried with her husband at the site next to her bronze statue and historical markers.

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Emmett Till Statue

A nine-foot-tall statue of Emmett Till was unveiled in Greenwood in 2022. Designed and built by sculptor Matt Glenn, the sculpture is the only official statue honoring Emmett Till currently on display in the United States. Till was 14 years old, in 1955, when he was abducted, beaten, and shot in the head for allegedly whistling at a white woman at the Bryant Grocery in the nearby town of Money. His murder proved to be a major turning point in the civil rights movement.

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Tallahatchie County Courthouse + Emmett Till Trial

During September of 1955, the Tallahatchie County Courthouse was the site of  the first major media event of the civil rights movement, the trial of Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam. The two men were accused of murdering Emmett Till for allegedly whistling at a white woman, Roy Bryant’s wife, Carolyn. The two men were acquitted by an all-white jury but later confessed to the murder after being paid more than $3,000 by Look magazine for their story.

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Biloxi Wade-Ins

A historical marker on the beach in Biloxi marks commemorates three historic protests in the late 1950s and early 1960s against Mississippi’s then “whites only” beaches. During the wade-in protests, Dr. Gilbert R. Mason, Sr. along with friends and members of the Mississippi coasts black community, were met with roadblocks from public officials and mob violence from white counterprotestors. Ultimately, Mason and his allies would prevail, opening Biloxi’s beaches to all in 1968.

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Mt. Zion Church + Freedom Summer Murders

Mt. Zion Methodist Church, in Longdale, was burned down in 1964 to lure civil rights workers to the site. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner came to investigate the church burning and were abducted and shot to death by Klan members at close range. Following an FBI investigation, seven co-conspirators were convicted and sentenced. Edgar Ray Killen escaped justice but was convicted by the state of Mississippi forty-one years later.

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Vernon Dahmer Memorial

In front of the Forrest County Courthouse, in Hattiesburg, stands a bronze statue of Vernon F. Dahmer, Sr. next to his words “if you don’t vote, you don’t count.” Dahmer was a Hattiesburg business owner and voting rights advocate who died, in 1966, after his home was firebombed by members of the KKK.  Sam Bowers was tried four times for Dahmer’s murder but not convicted until 1998 after the state of Mississippi announced new evidence and called for a new trial.

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Lauderdale County Courthouse + Meridian Race Riot of 1871

The Lauderdale County Courthouse is an important site related to the Meridian Race Riot of 1871, a event that illustrates the preconditions leading to black disenfranchisement, racial segregation, racially motivated lynching, and discriminatory laws. During a trial at the courthouse, the judge and two defendants were murdered. Later, Meridian’s business district was destroyed by fire and, after three days of brutal rioting, as many as 30 black residents were killed.

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Old Greyhound Bus Station + Freedom Riders

The Old Greyhound Bus Station, in Jackson, was the site of several Freedom Rides in 1961, protesting segregated interstate bus services in the segregated South.  Freedom Riders would board the busses in mixed racial groups to test the non-enforcement of Federal laws banning segregation on buses. Upon arriving in Jackson, hundreds of Freedom Riders were detained and transported to city and county jails – and, when those had filled to capacity, the Parchman State Penitentiary.

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