CLEVELAND, Miss. — The Delta Center for Culture and Learning hosted the Gen Z Summit at Delta State University for a lunch and learn event featuring Voices from the Sit In, the award-winning documentary about the 1969 Black student protest at Delta State. The students were part of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute’s Gen Z Summit, a gathering of over 60 college students from across the country commemorating the 60th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ assassination.
Summit participants were honored to meet Delta State alum and 1969 sit-in participant Mrs. Maggie Crawford, who shared her personal story about the sit-in. The participants had the opportunity to hear a conversation between Ms. Crawford and Dr. Rolando Herts, Director of the Delta Center for Culture & Learning and Executive Director of the Mississippi National Heritage Area, as well as participate in a Q&A session.
Crawford said, “I see so much hope in young people, it was great to speak with them.”
The participants came from a number of colleges and organizations, including the Medgar Evers College, the University of Alabama pre-law program, Mississippi NAACP Youth Council, the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, Alcorn State University, Cornell University, and Morehouse College, among others.
The afternoon’s events at Delta State University occurred on day three of the five-day summit. The Robertson Scholar interns from The Delta Center also joined the group in Jackson for the last two days of the summit. They traveled with the group from their home base at Millsaps College to Vicksburg for a civil rights tour, punctuated by visits from current Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. and former Mayor Robert M. Walker, the first black mayor of Vicksburg. They also visited with representatives from AmeriCorps and the NAACP. Following their Vicksburg tour, they viewed the film Till and met the filmmaker, Keith Beauchamp, along with a panel of individuals involved in preserving Emmett Till’s story.
“I just wanted the participants to walk away and know that you have a choice, to figure out how you want to use your voice in any way you see fit. And it’s okay for you not to,” said Lance Wheeler, Director of Programs for the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute and one of the tour leaders.
The group participated in workshops at Millsaps College focused on healing trauma and discussing racial reconciliation. The workshops were facilitated by community members, including Joan Trumpauder Mulholland, a Freedom Rider active in the 1960s, and her son, Loki Mulholland, an award-winning filmmaker for his films on race and social justice.
They also met Civil Rights icon Myrlie Evers-Williams and her daughter, Reena Evers, Executive Director of the Myrlie and Medgar Evers Institute before heading to the Voices of Courage & Justice Gala at the Jackson Convention Complex. Featured speakers and honorees included Reverend Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC PoliticsNation; writer and political activist Gloria Steinem; Congressman Bennie Thompson, US Representative from Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District; and Civil Rights activist James Meredith, the first Black student to integrate the University of Mississippi.
The Robertson Scholar interns, along with the other Gen Z Summit participants, reflected on how these place-based experiential learning events brought the history of the Mississippi Delta and the American South alive for them, feeling grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Summit and to meet so many influential people in the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Summit has encouraged me to seek knowledge in unconventional ways and to form familial spaces with like-minded people from all walks of life,” said MiMi Bishop, Gen Z Summit participant from The University of Mississippi.
Herts said, “The mission of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships, and community engagement.”
The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area (MDNHA) and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities Most Southern Place on Earth workshops for K-12 educators. For more information, visit www.deltacenterdsu.com
To learn more about the documentary, visit: www.deltastate.edu/dei/voices-from-the-sit-in.