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Honoring victims and heroes in the pursuit of racial justice: the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday

Two new museums—the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History—opened in December 2017 near the state capitol in Jackson. The general history museum contains exhibits of artifacts from the region’s earliest Native American inhabitants to objects of the present time. The neighboring civil rights museum focuses on the turbulent and consequential Civil Rights Movement, covering the period from about 1945 to 1970. The museum honors the memory of 14-year-old Emmett Till, whose brutal killing by whites in 1955 generated broad support for the civil rights movement. The museum also pays tribute to Mississippi native Medgar Evers, the activist killed by a white supremacist in 1963 in Jackson; and to three civil rights workers—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—who were slain by white supremacists in Mississippi’s Neshoba County in June 1964.

In 2018, museums and other institutions throughout the country are planning events to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. King. King was a powerful and eloquent speaker who gained the support and respect of millions while leading nonviolent demonstrations for civil rights in the 1950’s and 1960’s. King’s life was cut short at the age of 39 when he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. Every third Monday in January—and on January 15 of this year—the United States celebrates the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., as a federal holiday to honor King and his legacy. King was born on Jan. 15, 1929.


Image Caption: Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Washington D.C.

Image Credit: © M. Dogan, Shutterstock

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