"Finishing the Dream" - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

"Finishing the Dream"

By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - It was a moment to remember at Jackson State University on Tuesday afternoon, as civil rights activists joined a panel to educate a select audience on what life was like during that era.

The town hall meeting was titled "Finishing the Dream", a take on Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech.

Several clips were shown to the audience and panel members as a means of reflection on what happened during the civil rights movement.

As members of the audience asked questions, members of the panel reflected on some of the haunting stories from the past.

Panelist James Meredith was the first African-American to integrate the University of Mississippi as a student.

Almost 50 years later, Meredith says Mississippi hasn't gone far enough. "What we're not doing is giving our young people the proper educational opportunities that they deserve," Meredith said.

Ole Miss wasn't the only campus from that era that was flooded with gunfire.  

Two people were also killed at Jackson State in 1970 after the state highway patrol and the Jackson Police Department opened fire on students.

Interim JSU President, Dr. Les McLemore, says he believes change happens when past generations discuss these issues with current generations.

"The real value is to have this interactive, inter-generational dialogue between the elders and the young people," Dr. McLemore said.

Panelists discussed many issues from Mississippi's past as the state was at the heart of the civil rights movement.

They also discussed the death of three voter registration workers by Klansmen in Philadelphia,  known as the "Mississippi Burning." Some said this was a case that was never truly closed.

Panel member Reverend Kenneth Dean was the former Chairman of Civic Communications. Reverend Dean was a catalyst in getting WLBT's license revoked in 1971 after his church filed a complaint saying WLBT was unfair in it's coverage.

Shortly after, however, Rev. Dean took charge and the station changed.

"We ended up with a black general manager, a black anchor at 6 o'clock, a female anchor at 10 o'clock," said Dean.

Jackson was one of four cities in the nation, including Chicago, Detroit, and Atlanta to host the "Finishing the Dream" panel discussion.

NBC plans host a special on the Jackson State event in the fall.

Panel members included: James Meredith, the first African-American to integrate the University of Mississippi; former Chairman of Civic Communications Reverend Kenneth Dean; long-time Clarion Ledger Reporter Jerry Mitchell; founder of the Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development, Dr. John Perkins; and Jackson State University graduate Albert Sykes who lived down the street from where Medgar Evers was shot and killed.

©2010 WLBT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly