The weather and discussion at the conference was heated up today.
The morning session discussed what should happen after the conference is done and we return to our daily lives.
Diane Feldman, president and founder of the Feldman Group, a research firm, said the 1965 Voting Rights Act needs to be revised and see what progress has been made so far.
“We can measure progress by people like Shirlene Anderson,” Feldman said. “She is a former Jackson police chief and she is also black.”
Feldman also updated the audience on demographics. She said there was a growth in the younger generation and the United States is growing in terms of race, due to immigration. The panelists took this as a good sign.
Other panelists agreed. Representative Cedric Richmond said the movements need to fight for the best solution.
The question-and-answer session started off well, with people asking general questions and getting answers. Two of our group members, Haley and Raymond, each asked a question to the panel.
Haley’s question addressed injustices to the education system and asked the panelists if an amendment could be made to make 5-12th grade education an affordable law.
Rep. Richmond said that if public college was publicly funded, that would work and he also said that the education system was not broken, but misguided.
Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “public education is only as good as what it offers to the system.”
Raymond’s question was about congress representatives experiencing road blocks when changing policies in multiple states like Louisiana because Louisiana uses French code law.
The panelists said, “the laws that pertain to their government aren’t that different. It’s the family and criminal justice system that have different structures.”
Soon, the questions became demands and the panelists struggled to answer the questions calmly and as best they could.
The breaking point came when an older woman with long black dreads in her hair stepped up to the microphone and berated the panelists and the general public about liberties and freedoms.
The moderator let her have the allotted three minutes and then thanked her for her comments. The lady would not leave the microphone so the moderator gently took the microphone from her. Still, she raved on without it. She talked over and interrupted a total of five people and even ran back across the floor to get the microphone to be heard.
Finally, a security officer and a few others managed to calm her down more or less. She was still loudly discussing her topic when we left the gym.
After the conference, we hopped on the bus and explored downtown Jackson.
The first stop on our tour was the home of Medgar Evers, a black man who was murdered in his driveway as he was getting T-shirts out of the trunk. His wife and children were also home at the time but were unharmed as more bullets were fired through the house.
Evers was refused medical attention at the hospital, but then given attention once the doctors knew who he was. Evers applied to the University of Mississippi, but was rejected and he was also the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership.
The home was preserved and is now open to the public as a tribute to Evers. The bullet holes have since been covered up, but are marked with crime scene photos from the investigation.
Our next stop was Alexander Hall at Jackson State University. In 1970, Jackson State was the site of an anti-Vietnam War protest and shots were fired that hit Alexander Hall, a women’s dormitory. We were able to find the bullet holes that are still in the wall.
Since we stopped at the capitol of Alabama, we thought it fitting that we also stop at the Mississippi capitol, even though it was pouring rain.
Later, we went to the conference banquet, which was a very formal event. So formal, that the waitresses poured the salad dressing on for you. Fancy, yes? The banquet was full of good food, people that had been speaking at the conference all week and freedom songs.
Tomorrow, we pack out and leave the South.