Saturday, October 3, 2009

Freedom Corner: America's Newest Civil Rights Memorial

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Fresh off the drawing board, here it is - the design for J.C. Killingsworth Freedom Corner, a memorial to honor civil rights activists who led the non-violent (at least on their end) struggle in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Hattiesburg was "ground zero" for much of the persecution of African-Americans in the 1960's. Clyde Kennard, who tried to register at the University of Southern Mississippi (then Mississippi Southern College) five years before James Meredith broke the color barrier at Ole Miss, was framed by the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission and sent to Parchman Penetentiary where the contracted cancer. Left untreated, Kennard died weeks after being released.

Vernon Dahmer, another Hattiesburg civil rights leader, was killed in 1966 when his house was firebombed by the KKK.

The memorial's namesake - Rev. J.C. Killingsworth - has often been referred to as Hattiesburg's Martin Luther King, as he organized and led marches of silent protest throughout the 1960's. Appropriately, Freedom Corner is located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Avenue and the newly renamed J.C. Killingsworth Drive.

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