Some of their stories are well known: Medgar Evers, a tireless fighter against segregation who was assassinated outside his family home; Amzie Moore, a businessman whose ideas helped inspire 1964’s Freedom Summer; Fannie Lou Hamer, a voting rights activist who said civil rights was her life’s calling. Other names are less familiar but equally important, like Aaron Henry, a pharmacist and leader of the early 1960s Clarksdale boycott campaign, and Clyde Kennard, a pioneer in efforts to desegregate higher education.
The courageous efforts of all of these individuals, and many more, are remembered today through markers along the Mississippi Freedom Trail, which welcomes visitors to walk in the paths taken by heroes striving for racial equality. Mississippi’s pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement included defining moments that happened throughout the state, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s visits to towns in the Delta and Coastal regions, to James Meredith’s 1962 arrival on the University of Mississippi campus and a sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1963. Each of these initiatives was a step toward justice. Exploring them anew in the 21st century is an enlightening odyssey.