CANTON, Miss.–The reason kids are out of school Jan. 20, 2014, is not just to play around or go fishing. It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, set aside to remember a man whose philosophy of non-violent resistance is a big reason Mississippi’s Jim Crowe segregation ended.
Perhaps King’s most famous trek through the Magnolia State was in June 1966 after James Meredith was shot on his March Against Fear, which he started solo, from Memphis to Jackson.
After he was shot, several famous Civil Rights icons decided to continue his march, ending in Jackson, with 15,000 people.
During the trip Stokely Carmichael was arrested in Greenwood.
In Canton, the marchers were attacked by state troopers and other police with tear gas.
Many Cantonians remembered the march in August on the national day set aside to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where King said, “I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“I was here when Martin Luther King came to Canton. I marched with him and I’m proud to be here today to see how far we have come and we have a long way to go,” one Canton resident told News Mississippi. “We need more togetherness and love and understanding.”