Mississippi Moments Podcast

Mississippi Moments, a weekly radio program airing on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, is a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the Mississippi Humanities Council, and MPB.

The Podcasts

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was organized in 1964 as an alternative to the then-all-white Mississippi Democratic Party.

The MFDP, after holding a statewide election open to people of all colors, sent its delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention in an attempt to be recognized as the legitimate representatives of the State.

In this episode, Dr. Aaron Henry of Clarksdale remembers the long bus to Atlantic City, New Jersey and the crowded accommodations the delegates endured.

 After impassioned speeches by Fannie Lou Hamer and Dr. Martin Luther King, President Lynden Johnson offered to seat two of MFDP delegates with the Illinois delegation. Henry discusses they decision to decline that offer.

He also explains that even though they were not seated at the 1964 convention, their efforts lead to the reform of the Democratic Party.

Direct download: MSM_410.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 9:01 PM

In 1964, as SNCC coordinators trained volunteers for the Mississippi Freedom Summer project, three others, Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman traveled to Philadelphia, MS to investigate a church burning.

In this episode, Cleveland Sellers recounts how he and seven other coordinators went in search of those three when they went missing. Sellers describes the extraordinary lengths their group went to, to avoid being spotted as they searched for their friends.

After several days of searching through woods and empty buildings in the dead of night, Sellers’ group was forced to abandon their search.

The bodies of Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were eventually found on August 4th, 1964.

Direct download: MSM_409.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 8:17 PM

After attending a Freedom School as a high school student in the summer of ’64, Charleana Cobb of Blue Mountain was inspired to become active in the civil rights movement. In this episode, she recalls promoting a speech being given at her church  by civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Cobb remembers the thrill of hearing Hamer speak that night and the shock of being told that the church had burned to the ground the next morning.

That December, college students from Oberlin, Ohio came to Blue Mountain to rebuild the church as a project called Carpenters for Christmas. Cobb recalls how members of the community reacted to the sacrifice these Oberlin College students made in giving up their Christmas holiday.

Direct download: MSM_408.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 7:39 PM

After attempting to register to vote, Fannie Lou Hamer was forced to leave the plantation where she had lived and worked for 18 years.  In the episode, she explains how she became active in voter registration and the challenges they faced.

Prior to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Mississippi required voters to pass a literacy test and pay a poll tax in order to vote.  Hamer recalls how she passed the test and the first time she was able to vote.

Hamer went on to become a leader in the Civil Rights movement and her speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 touched the nation. She reflects on her time in the spotlight and the friends she made along the way.

Fannie Lou Hamer passed away on March 14th, 1977.



Direct download: MSM_407.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 7:28 PM

In 1962, Fannie Lou Hamer was a sharecropper’s wife, living on a plantation in Ruleville, Mississippi. In this episode, she recalls the first time she tried to register to vote.

After leaving Indianola, the bus carrying Hamer’s group was pulled over by state and local law enforcement. She describes how they were forced to return to Indianola to face an assortment of trumped up charges.

Later that same day when Hamer returned home, the owner of the plantation confronted her about attempting to register.  She describes how she was forced to leave her home of 18 years that very night for refusing to withdraw her registration.

The plantation owner's harsh treatment of Hamer led her to become an inspirational figure in the Civil Rights movement.


Direct download: MSM_406.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 8:26 PM

In 1964, Larry Rubin of Tacoma Park, Maryland came to Holly Springs to help black Mississippians register to vote. In this episode he explains how the state used literacy tests and intimidation to keep blacks from voting.

A key goal of Freedom Summer was to register enough Freedom Democratic Party voters to have their delegates seated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Rubin recalls the drudgery of knocking on doors and the thrill of watching the convention drama unfold on TV.

Rubin also reflects on the violence and intimidation that black Mississippians endured in order to secure the right to vote.

Direct download: MSM_405.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 8:15 PM

In July of 1964, Sandra Adickes came to Hattiesburg to teach in a “Freedom School” as part of a civil rights campaign known as Freedom Summer. The Freedom Schools were intended to help black children overcome the disparity of education in Mississippi’s segregated school system.

In this episode, Adickes remembers her arrival and a 4th of July party sponsored by civil rights activist, Vernon Dahmer. She also describes a typical day in the Freedom School and how on the last day of Freedom School, the students decided to try and integrate the Hattiesburg Public Library.

Direct download: MSM_404.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 7:25 PM

In June of 1964, a campaign was launched to educate black Mississippians and register them to vote. In the episode, Gloria Clark, a school teacher from Massachusetts, recalls riding a bus to Memphis to prepare for her role in the campaign called Freedom Summer. Clark remembers being assigned to Holly Springs and her initial reaction to that assignment.

On June 21st, three civil rights activists James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman disappeared after being released from a Neshoba County Jail.  Their bodies were found two months later. Clark explains how their disappearance affected her.

Direct download: MSM_403.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 8:25 PM

Like many Jewish children in the South, John Levingston of Cleveland, Mississippi attended kindergarten at a Christian church.  In the episode, Levingston remembers how that led to some confusion for him.

 Growing up in a Reform Congregation, Levingston did not participate in some traditional Jewish practices.  He recalls his decision to learn Hebrew and have a bar mitzvah in his late thirties.

 The once thriving Jewish population of the Delta has dwindled as younger generations have moved away.  Levingston explains why he chose that as the topic of his bar mitzvah talk.

Direct download: MSM_402.mp3
Category:Mississippi History -- posted at: 8:11 PM

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer—a time when black Mississippians worked with northern students to confront Jim Crow and claim their rights as citizens. To commemorate this Freedom struggle, we are combing the collection to bring you a series of Mississippi Moments that explore Freedom Summer from a variety of perspectives: from organizers to volunteers to yes, even law enforcement.

In this episode, we hear from Charlie Capps. While Capps would later go on to a distinguished career as a Mississippi legislator, in spring of '64, he was the newly-elected sheriff of Bolivar County. As an elected sheriff in a county where few blacks could vote, he was the first line of defense of Mississippi’s segregated order. He recalls the fear, apprehension and resentment many in the white community felt as civil rights workers came to Mississippi to upend the Jim Crow system of racial segregation.

Direct download: MSM_401.mp3
Category:civil rights -- posted at: 6:59 PM