Friday marks the 38th anniversary of the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County.
New Yorkers Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman had joined James Chaney of Meridian, to promote voter registration and investigate the burnings of black churches in the area.
The trio was stopped for speeding in Neshoba County, jailed and then released.
Seven members of the KKK were later tried for violating the civil rights of Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, in federal court in Meridian. No one was ever arrested or tried by the state for the murders.
"The White and the Black community has risen because of the fact these men came here," said Dr. Johnson. "They came and we began to know, Hey, I can cast a vote. I can do this. I can register. I can become a first class citizen. I've become a productive part of the society."
Johnson said only state prosecution for the murders will bring closure.
He also showed NewsCenter 11 a painting given to him by one of the men who served time for violating the civil rights of the trio.
Johnson said it was accompanied by an apology from the man, who he declined to name.
Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman will be remembered in a special service Sunday, June 23, at Mt. Zion Methodist Church in Neshoba County.