Preserving Memories of Civil Rights Era

By: Tyler Helms
By: Tyler Helms

A nationwide effort to preserve the stories of the civil rights movement made its way through Neshoba County Friday. It actually kicked off on Aug. 3. Its goal is to chronicle the stories of the civil rights movement.

Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Neshoba County is a place all too familiar with the struggles among the races.

"Just to be able to meet some of the people we have read about and we have heard about Voices of Civil Rights Bus Tour is truly an excellent experience for the ones of us who are participating in it now," said Mary Burciaga, president of Mississippi AARP, which is partnering in the effort to record the stories.

It's more than just a tour, though. At each stop in 35 cities, an experienced team of journalists interviews people who lived through the fifties and sixties.

Those stories are then cataloged and digitally stored and will be kept in the Library of Congress.

"This is what this is all about. Grassroots effort. People who were there. People who felt the fist, felt the pain and also, in my case, people who benefit from the effort of voting registration and those things," said James Young, president of the Neshoba County board of supervisors. "So this is just a really important event in the movement here in Mississippi."

The tour, which allows people to submit both oral and written accounts, does not treat the movement as over. It acknowledges there is still work to be done.

"We are striving to get there; we have not made it yet. The walls have not fallen, but progress is being made," Young said.

Organizers say they hope that these extraordinary stories from ordinary people will insure both blacks and whites will learn from the past.


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