Meridian Star

Local News

June 18, 2014

Freedom Summer

Civil Rights Trail markers unveiled

MERIDIAN —     Young and old, black and white, Meridian natives and visitors in town for a civil rights conference gathered on Tuesday to unveil the first marker in the new Meridian Civil Rights Trail.

    The 18 marker trail highlights moments in the history of Meridian and the south in its quest for voting rights, education and employment opportunities and equality for all races. The trail documents victory over violence and honors the key moments and people who helped make it happen.

    A crowd of approximately 200 people watched as the marker covers gave way as Mayor Percy Bland of Meridian, Mayor James Young of Philadelphia, and various community members all pulled in the same direction on the sashes holding the covers of the trail Markers.

    Trail marker one, at the intersection of 25th Avenue and 5th Street  has information about the African-American Business District.

    Trail marker two, adjacent to one, is dedicated to "The Movement" — commemorating the 1871 Race Riot of Con Sheehan Hall to the Freedom Summer activities of workers at the Council of Federated Organizations building.

    After helping to unveil the marker, Bland talked about the significance of the event.

    "I'm excited that we get to tell our story, our history. I'm excited that all of these students are out here because a lot of times young people really don't know their history, and if they don't know their history the opportunity exists to repeat the bad," Bland said. "So we want them to know their history so we can avoid repeating it."

    Malcolm White, Tourism Division Director of the Mississippi Development Authority, documented the unveiling of the markers.

    "It's great to see the community to get out and support this and embrace their story," White said. "It's a cross section of folks here and this is a great moment for Mississippi in our quest to tell our story. It's great see so many people enthusiastic about the telling."

    Dede Mogollon, executive director of Visit Meridian, the county's tourism department said she was excited about the opportunity of having an asset like the Civil Rights trail in Meridian.

    "There's a lot of interest in Civil Rights from tourists, especially with Freedom Summer this summer," Mogollon said. "Folks will be travelling around to learn about the history and see it and we are hoping they will come into Meridian and spend their money here."

    Mogollon said the trail will have a positive economic impact on the economy. Also available at the event are brochures that detail the location of each of the markers.

    For more information, go to http://visitmeridian.com/CivilRights .

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