Civil Rights Conference

The National Conference on Civil Rights continued Monday at Pearl River Resort. The theme for this year's conference is 'Rise, Advocate, Educate and Cooperate: The Unfinished Business of the Civil Rights Movement.'

'If we don't learn how to communicate communicate and build relationships, we are destined to go right back into the early 40's and 50's when everybody was afraid of each other and afraid to communicate,' says Philadelphia Mayor James Young.

That's why conference sponsors from Philadelphia and Meridian say sparking more discussions about the past and reaching out to young future leaders are two goals for the gathering.

'This conference is about dialogue. It's not about hate or unforgiveness,' says Young.

'I think any time you are able to talk about the past and relate to it and what really happened in the 60's and early 70's and be able to accept it and move forward with greater goals and greater visions for your community, I think it's very helpful,' says Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry.

Young people from the Choctaw Tribe's Boys and Girls Club are attending some sessions this year.

'It is important to help them develop,' says the club's Dina Jimmie.

For year two of the conference, attendance is up by about 15% to 100 people registered. Among those are: educators, civil rights activists and civilians from as far away as the states of Washington, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

'It's very, very important to know that color is a secondary thing. There were more Caucasians than there were people of color involved in the Civil Rights Movement,' says 1964 Freedom Rider, Fredrick Clark.

One of the featured guests is the man who many largely credit with the ultimate conviction of Edgar Ray Killen for the deaths of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, almost 40 years after the murders happened.

'It's important that the truth be known. That's the thing that always drives me,' says investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell with the Clarion Ledger newspaper. 'Of course we know that there are still two suspects in the case who are alive, walking around. So, it bears continuing to write about.'

Next year's National Conference on Civil Rights will be held in Meridian. The goal is to attract at least 300 attendees.

The theme for next year's conference will center around the 'The Voices of Heroic Women and Men in the Civil Rights Movement.'

Papers, panels and artistic productions are being solicited for the conference. For more information click on the Civil Rights Conference link provided below.

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