Autograph For The Ages follow up - - Jackson, MS

Autograph For The Ages follow up

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

I showed you, last Thursday, an unbelievable signature collection of some of the icons of the civil rights movement.They were in the 1964 autograph book of a Lanier High School student named Carol Ann Dear.

She initially declined an interview, but now she has decided to share her fascinating story in this WLBT Black History month exclusive follow up.

The little 1964 autograph book, jam-packed with historic signatures, almost ended up in the trash until the managers of a Jackson pawn shop examined it further. It belonged to then 16-year-old Carol Ann Dear, a Lanier High School student.

Carol Ann Dear said, "Well, I was just at the right place at the right time."

She's 68-years-old now.

Carol Ann Dear said, "I participated in the civil rights movement and some of the people that were involved, like Clarie Collins Harvey and others, you know, always kept me under their wing and mentored me and when something of interest would come around I would be there and I'd get to meet people and get autographs and take pictures."

Dear was one of dozens of students from Jackson area high schools, who staged a walk out that year; ended up under arrest and transported in garbage trucks to make-shift holding facilities at the state fairgrounds.

Carol Ann Dear said, "It was an exciting mood and a restless mood because the young people were tired of being second class citizens, you know. They wanted to do something to make a change in the history and make a change in what was actually happening in Mississippi and young people; we just decided one day at Lanier, where I'm a graduate of, we decided one day to just walk out of class and show that, hey, we're not going to take this anymore and it happened and it kind of snowballed from there. And it apparently caught the attention of some very powerful civil right leaders. Yes, it did."

Asked if her parents were concerned about what they were doing, Carol Ann Dear said, "Well, yes, but at 16, I knew it all."

She said she was going to do it anyway with a chuckle.

She says she got the autographs at different times and locations, like Memphis, and at least one is the signature of a Freedom Rider from Massachusetts. So,how did her treasured collection end up in a pawn shop? Dear survived the turbulent 60's only to be victimized by thieves, now, while she tried to recover from cancer.

Dear said, "I went to the hospital, supposedly, for a five day stay and it wound up being more like 5 months. Someone broke into my house and proceeded to take everything including that book."

She continued, "Took the hot water heater. They took the antique dining room table and four chairs. They took the glass table. They took a small refrigerator.."

I contacted pawn shop owner Nick Fulton to let him know what happened.

Fulton said, "I couldn't think of anything more on my mind than to get that book back to her."

So, a meeting was arranged here at WLBT and the little autograph book packed with signatures of some of the giants of the civil rights movement is now back in the hands of the one who collected them.

Fulton said, "It's just a humbling experience..."

He continued, "Having the 3 of us together, everything had to line up just right, you know, us knowing you. You reaching out to her; truly was a hand of God to get that book back in her hands."

Carol Ann Dear said, "I'm happy to have it back, because it's a piece of history and I was saving it for my grandchildren, you know, because my parents taught me that if you don't know your history, you're doomed to repeat it."

I thanked her for agreeing to talk with WLBT on camera.

Dear said, "And thank you for finding my treasure."

An interesting side note is that Carol Ann Dear told me she became the first African American teller at a Jackson bank when she took and passed a rigorous test at the old Deposit Guaranty Bank.

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