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December 11, 2022 / Jim Fenton

Civil Rights Journey Day 6: Jackson, Mississippi

View of a church service on a large stage, with youth about to sing

Sunday, October 23, 2022

We started earlier than usual today in order to catch the 8 am service at New Horizons Church, a majority-Black church in a former strip mall in southern Jackson. The facility was beautifully adapted to its use as a church, and we were warmly welcomed. Most of the music was presented by a children’s group, which was very talented.

After the service, we met with the Senior Pastor, Bishop Ronnie Crudup. He described the formation of the church and also went into considerable detail about the political climate in Jackson and more generally in Mississippi. One story that struck me was that the Governor, rather than distribute federal aid from the American Recovery Act, sent at least some of the money back to the federal government saying that it was not needed. This struck me as simply cruel. In any case it is organizations like New Horizons that are developing the community for future leadership.

We then went to a local restaurant for brunch with some local women leaders (and teenage leaders) who are working in the area of voting rights and getting the Black community, and Black women in particular, to participate in the political process and specifically to vote.

After brunch we took our bus to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in downtown Jackson. The museum is, perhaps surprisingly, funded by the State of Mississippi. We started out with a short talk by Hezekiah Watkins, one of the original Freedom Riders. We then had some time — although not enough — to explore the museum, which took us from the days of slavery to the present, with an emphasis on the mid-20th century civil rights movement.

We then took the bus to the Medgar Evers home. Evers, the field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP, was shot and killed there in 1963. The house has recently been designated as a national monument, but unfortunately wasn’t open for tours when we were there.

This article is part of a series about our recent travels to the US South. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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