Tougaloo

After reading Anne Moody’s account of one of the first sit-ins in the South, The Woolworth sit-in (we can’t find a copy online, so we will type one up and put a link here later), where her and other brave Tougaloo students and staff first stood up against discrimination, we destined ourselves for Jackson to learn more about Civil Rights struggles in the South. After fruitless attempts of searching the city for a day, finding not even a plaque to commemorate the activities that brought Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Vernon Jordan here, we  ventured over to Tougaloo College to see if their library could help fill us in on the struggles. And sure enough their librarian was most helpful. At a college that use to be the Bodie plantation and still holds the remains of one of the KKK crosses that was burnt near a classroom building (the remains are just laying out on a shelf with a small sign next to them) it was in this small library where we had the opportunity to rummage through old original photographs and newspaper clippings in unmarked boxes that contained the story of desegregation. We held original pictures of MLK speaking to the students, looked at countless pictures of activists and freedom riders of the time in meetings and in demonstrations. Most of the pictures were just black and white photos of people our age, single glimpses of unrecognizable people involved in the struggle. Some pictures were of the Tougaloo Nine, some of the mob that stormed Woolworths, some of students running away from cops and each other after the shootings. It was so powerful to be in this small special collections library, where the librarian just kept pulling out boxes that held these photos in barely organized manila folders.  Together, the three of us looked at the faces of those who were ready to devote their lives to end segregation and while we didn’t know most of their names, we have all been a part of the world that is the result of their efforts. One thing is certain though, the job is not over. Conversations about segregation are only found in museums in Jackson, in reality when we went to Hal & Mal’s the white people went through a door and were seated in a restaurant where a bluegrass band was playing, while the people of color went through a side door where they were patted down before entering a talent show where the emcee was playing hip hop and the blues. We heard people use words marked with hatred and watched as people separated themselves from one another. Coincidence? Cultural customs? Comfort level? Who can say, but whether we realize it or not, we remain segregated. And the longer our hearts continue to be gated the longer diversity will remain in unmarked photos.   

 

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    […] Moody joined the school’s chapter of the NAACP and became very active.  She participated in sit-ins, helped poverty-stricken families obtain clothes and food, organized functions, and participated in […]


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