MSU African American Studies hosts ‘James Meredith and the March Against Fear’

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

James Meredith (Submitted photo)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s African American Studies program is continuing its 10th anniversary celebration with a special Wednesday [March 1] panel discussion.

Taking place at 6 p.m. in historic Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium, “James Meredith and the March Against Fear” will feature U.S. Air Force veteran James Meredith and fellow activists Flonzie Brown-Wright and Hollis Watkins who participated in the major 1966 Civil Rights Movement demonstration.

In addition to the College of Arts and Sciences’ African American Studies program, the panel discussion is supported by the university’s Office of Public Affairs and the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering’s Office of Diversity Programs and Student Development.

The panel will be moderated by MSU Associate Professor of History Jason Morgan Ward, author of “Hanging Bridge: Racial Violence and America’s Civil Rights Century” (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Hollis Watkins (Submitted photo)

Also making remarks during the evening program will be Aram Goudsouzian, University of Memphis history department chair and author of “Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear” (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014).

A Kosciusko native, Meredith became the first African American admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962. On June 5, 1966, Meredith started the “March Against Fear,” a solo march from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, to increase awareness of civil rights violations in the Magnolia State. He was shot on the second day of the march and unable to continue.

Major civil rights organizations resumed the march. Along with Martin Luther King Jr., community organizers Brown-Wright and Watkins were among those who aided the march.

A Jackson community organizer who inspired “March Against Fear” participants by singing freedom songs, Watkins became the first Mississippi youth to join the 1961 Voting Rights Project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  

Flonzie Brown-Wright (Submitted photo)

Based in Canton, Brown-Wright provided shelter and food to King and other “March Against Fear” participants. She became the first black woman to hold elected office in Mississippi when she was named Madison County election commissioner in 1968.

Meredith later rejoined the marchers in Jackson, where he walked alongside King and other civil rights leaders.

Along the way, civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael uttered the phrase “Black Power,” which became a national slogan following the march.

For more information, contact LaShundra Townsend, African American Studies administrative assistant, at 662-325-0587 and

Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, MSU’s African American Studies program offers courses leading to a minor in African American Studies. For more, visit

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