6/25/2014 6:00:00 AM Community members and others march in unity
By CONOR BELL
On Saturday, community members marched and sang in unity as they made their trek up Main Street to the courthouse as part of last week's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the murders of three civil rights workers here in 1964.
The Rev. Lynn Barker of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church gave the occasion at the courthouse steps.
"This beautiful courthouse has seen some history," she said. "I am reminded that there are some people here today who have seen some things that I have only seen in pictures and read in history books."
Barker said she is an "unlikely person" giving the occasion because she grew up only seeing the picture of the burned car and the FBI pictures of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
"We are here today to make more history," she said. "We all know what is still not right, but we give thanks for the three that gave their lives for what is right."
The Rev. M.C. Thompson gave the audience words of encouragement recalling events that have happened in his lifetime.
"I remember in 1955 that there was a lot of places where people of color could not go," the pastor said. "I was not able to eat a pizza until I was a young man because we didn't go to those places. When we went traveling, we had to stay in the bed bug inn instead of the Holiday Inn."
He said the three slain civil rights workers fought and gave their lives to give African Americans the right to vote.
"On election day, I challenge you to go out and vote," Thompson said. "What happened 50 years ago, we have benefited from it today."
Emma Myers remembers the murders because it was the year that she and her husband moved to Neshoba County from Virginia.
"After we heard about the murders, we were in shock," she said.
Myers said her husband lost his job teaching at an integrated Neshoba Central because he spoke out about the way whites students were treating African Americans students.
"They fired him, and then he taught at Philadelphia for over 40 years and he said that's when he saw so many changes in the way kids began to relate to each other," she said.
Ward 4 Alderman Cecil Nichols said when he was growing up, he never dreamed of holding political office in Philadelphia.
"As I was growing up, my main ambition was to be a teacher and coach," Nichols said. "I went to the military and saw the changes being made. When the changes in politics were being made, I began to see the voting power and how people can make a change and difference in the community."