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Famous Freedom Rider visits Delta State class

By January 23, 2024Academics, Students

CLEVELAND, Miss. —Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a Tougaloo College student in the 1960s and civil rights activist, was a guest speaker recently in Michelle Johansen’s Mississippi History class at Delta State University. Joan and her son, Loki, talked to and fielded questions from students, faculty, and staff. Afterwards, the Mulhollands joined faculty members for lunch in the cafeteria where they got the chance to meet DSU President Dr. Dan Ennis, Mrs. Ennis and other members of the campus and community.

(L to R) Dr. Rolando Herts, Loki Mulholland, Adelina Keith, Rosie Ellis, Michelle Johansen, Ana Scroggins, Tycen Gray, Nolan Troyer, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Kiefer Martin, Dr. Charles Westmoreland, Benjamin Lobred, Christopher Lott, Samuel Burrell, Wayne Dowdy, Jackson Tibbs, Jacob Kackley and Todd Campbell.

Joan Mulholland’s Freedom Rider mugshot has been called one of the most iconic in American history. By the time she was 23 years old, she had participated in over 50 sit-ins and demonstrations including the Freedom Rides, the Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-in, the March on Washington, the Meredith March and the Selma to Montgomery March. Her path crossed that of some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights Movement including Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, John Lewis, Diane Nash and Julian Bond.

Dr. Charles Westmoreland, chair of the Department of Social Sciences and History said, “The Mulhollands’ appearance is interesting enough but how they got to our campus is equally fascinating. Ana Scroggins, a Social Studies Education major and student in Ms. Johansen’s class, worked out their appearance through the magic of social media and wonderful timing.”

Scroggins said that she was had seen videos about Mulholland on Tik Tok, and was motivated to reach out to her son, Loki, after reading Coming of Age in Mississippi by Anne Moody, which details several of the protests that Joan Mulholland was involved in. She said, “Tell Mrs. Joan that I admire her courage and bravery at the sit-in as well as in her career as a Freedom Rider.” Their communication continued and when the Mulhollands were planning a trip to Mississippi, Scroggins helped arrange their visit to campus.

In 2023 Joan received an honorary doctorate from Tougaloo College. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Simeon Booker Award for Courage, the 2019 International Civil Rights Museum Trailblazer Award, the 2015 National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Award, the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated Annual Award of Honor and the Anti-Defamation League Annual Heroes Against Hate Award.

For more information on DSU classes and programs, visit