This week there was a rich exchange between college students in the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) at the University of Florida (UF) and junior/high school students in the McComb Legacies Project. The SPOHP spent the day of September 18 in McComb en route to their 6th annual Mississippi Delta research trip. They were inspired to spend more time in McComb following their February visit for a student-led voting rights conference.
The Samuel Proctor Program brought a research team of graduate and undergraduate students who conducted oral history interviews in McComb in collaboration with McComb Legacies students.
In addition, the university students enjoyed a local history tour led by Jacqueline Byrd Martin and Tazwell Bowsky; interviewed high school students about their experience learning local history; and shared a fellowship dinner with poetry. The Samuel Proctor Program leadership staff met with the Superintendent in McComb to discuss long term collaboration.
Six students and one teacher from McComb followed the Proctor Program to the Delta where they will conduct oral history interviews, visit the Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights Museum in Belzoni and the Sunflower County Freedom Project in Sunflower, Mississippi, and see other historic sites in Cleveland and Glendora. (See description of McComb’s participation in the Delta trip in 2012.)
The capstone of SPOHP’s agenda in the Delta is a public history panel at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss. on the legacies of the civil rights movement in the Delta. The theme of this year’s panel was “Violence, Non-Violence, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” Panelists discussed the various forms of non-violent direct action taken up by civil rights veterans to bring voting rights to all Americans, and the violent backlash of vigilantes, white supremacists, and organized mobs that resulted. Professor Akinyele Umoja of Georgia State University was a panelist at the event, speaking on his acclaimed new book, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement.
Interviews collected during this research trip will be deposited in a publicly accessible archive at the University of Florida as well as with the Sunflower County Civil Rights Organization in Mississippi for educational use. These materials will be made accessible to teachers.
This story based on the SPOHP press release about the annual research trip. Read more.