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Marker Commemorating Historic Sit-In Unveiled

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 May 2013 06:54am | comments
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News

It’s been 50 years since an angry white mob attacked a group of anti-segregation protestors who sought to break down racial barriers at lunch counters in Mississippi and that marker has been added in downtown Jackson to commemorate the 1963 Woolworth's lunch counter sit in.


Joan Trumpauer Mullholland who is one of the anti-segregation protestors photographed in one of the most well known pictures of the civil rights movement, and she explains the importance of this event.


"`Fifty years ago it was the worst day possible in the sit in movement. Today, it is the best day possible in the celebrations,"


Mullholland was part of a racially mixed group that sought to integrate a whites only lunch counter at the Woolworth's in downtown Jackson.


A mob of angry whites gathered and attacked, beat, and poured ketchup, mustard and other food over Mullholland and her fellow protestors.


"And it was like the essence of me had already left the seen and headed toward heaven and was hangin up in the sky above me and it was just the shell of a body, dust to dust, that was left at the counter," Mullholland said.


A freedom trail marker was unveiled yesterday on the 50th anniversary of the protest near where the lunch counter once stood.


Fred Blackwell stood on the counter and captured the photo of the attack that became one of the best known pictures of the civil rights movement and propelled it nationally.


Blackwell says he never feared for his safety.


"No, I never did. I didn't fear for my safety at all. In fact, to be quite honest with you, I was not a lot than most of the protestors and I knew a few of them," Blackwell said.


But others did fear for their lives as some of the protestors were savagely kicked and beaten.


Edwin King was in the building standing by the phone with a pocket full of nickels to give minute by minute updates to famed civil rights advocate Medger Evers.


"I feared for the life of all of them in there and knew that mob members could identify me with them in there. So I feared for my life. But its not the first time in the movement people were ready to give their lives," King said.


A maker explaining the protest now stands in a green space next to a downtown Jackson office building, the Woolworth's building closed decades ago.


Once construction on Capitol Street is finished, the marker will be moved to the street to be more visible.


Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News



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