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National Civil Rights Conference Taking Place Near Philadelphia Mississippi

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Jun 2011 05:17pm | comments
Keith Parker and Khirsten Wilson at the Civil Rights conference.

A national Civil Rights conference is continuing near Philadelphia. Today also marks the 47th anniversary of one of the most high profile Civil Rights era murders. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that organizers of the conference hope to apply the lessons of the civil rights era to modern day struggles....

 

This is the first year for the National Civil Rights Conference, organized by University of Georgia sociology professor Dr. Keith Parker.

 

Parker, a Mississippi native, says he designed the conference to examine the lessons from the Civil Rights Era and apply them to what he considers modern civil rights struggles.

 

"If we look at Dr. King, Rosa Parks, these were individuals that worked across racial, gender and class lines. We have to instill some more of the King-ian theories and concepts of coalition building," Parker said.

 

Parker also wants to teach the history of Civil Rights to a new generation.

 

Dozens of kids attended the first morning of the conference learning about important figures in Civil Rights history.

 

11-year old Justin Nicholson says he enjoys learning about the Civil Rights.

 

"Its nothing to joke about because people that we knew about and people that we understand about....they have freedom now and back then they didn't have freedom like we do now," Nicholson said.

 

The children are just miles from one of the most significant Civil Rights Era murders....the lynching of three civil rights workers in in Philadelphia.

 

That murder happened 47 years ago today and the outrage that followed helped spur congress to pass the Civil Rights Act.

 

James Young, Philadelphia's first African-American mayor, says Mississippians need to remember the Civil Rights Era...even the ugly parts.

 

"I think they think it is a taboo. But we are here together: white men, black men, Choctaw, Asians. We are here together. And when you and I cannot sit down and talk about our differences that makes me think we may be afraid to admit we have them, but we do," Young said.

 

No one was tried for the murder at the time, but in 2005 then 80-year old Edgar Ray Killen...considered the man who planned the attack....was convicted of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

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Keith Parker and Khirsten Wilson at the Civil Rights conference.


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