I came of age in Mississippi during the civil rights movement – a witness to history. A lasting impression from those days as a young woman right out of high school is that the rest of the nation seemed to deny that racisim existed beyond the borders of my home state.
I could relate numerous brushes with the stories which have seeped into our conciousness. Here are a few:
• Assisting writer William Bradford Huie with an article he wrote for Cavalier magazine about Mack Charles Parker, who was lynched on my birthday the year before I graduated from high school.
• Witnessing a carload of neighbors head out for Ole Miss to “do something about” James Meredith’s entry there and marrying a man who was marshaled to quell the violence as a member of the Mississippi National Guard.
• Having an extended family member who was friends with Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price, one of those linked to the slayings of Schwerner, Goodman and Cheney.
• Working in downtown Jackson, Mississippi, when “Thompson’s Tank” (Mayor Allen C. Thompson) was hauling newly arrived “Freedom Riders” off to an improvised jail at the state fairgrounds.
• Being sent home by my bosses because a sit-in at the nearby Woolworth’s lunch counter threatened to erupt into violence – then seeing them both appear in a photo of the incident in Life magazine.
• Reading a daily newspaper where the editor, Jimmy Ward, used the word “nigger” in front-page editorials.
• Being emotionally devastated when the grandmother of a four-year-old relative proudly showed me the little boy’s photo in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Today, at age 69, I am privy to the fact that racism, however subtle, still exists and perhaps always will. I am thankful I learned to abhor it.
This is the story of what such prejucice can do to a young and impressionable mind.
CNN’s investigative team takes an in-depth look at the “backpack of hatred” carried by the Brandon, Mississippi, teenager who is accused of murdering a black man, because he was black.
“Teen murder suspect carried ‘backpack of hatred’” is hard to take and even carries an editor’s warning that the report contains language which might offend some readers. READ IT HERE.
This well-researched and well-written report is followed up tonight with "Mississippi Still Burning?" on CNN Presents, at 8 and 11 ET.