1960s Biloxi Beach Wade In Protestor Shares His Story

In the 1960’s, black men and women were not allowed on Biloxi Beach. In a non-violent effort to change that, protestors stood on the beach east and west of the light house, but they were attacked and beaten by groups of white men.
Today News 25’s Shelby Myers spoke with those who risked their lives for equal right and shares their story.
Clemon P. Jimerson Sr. was one of the 150 protestors who stood on the sandy beaches of Biloxi in 1960 to fight for their right to join white people on the beach. He was just 14 years old.
“You looked up, they had several cars that pulled,” Jimerson recalls. “They had a whole lot of young men, I guess maybe 18 or 19 and up, older men, nothing but men with clubs and sticks coming down toward the beach.”
They were coming toward the beach to attack non-violent protesters, as the Biloxi Police Department stood by and watched. Jimerson was lucky enough to get away, but not before leaving his mark on the attacker: “I just said a prayer to God and I knew it was a non-violent protest but I balled my fist up. As I balled my first, this guy was approaching me and I just turned around and swung.” That punch saved Jimerson’s life. He was then able to safely meet up with his family who were protesting on another part of the beach.
Aria Mason’s grandfather, Dr. Gilbert R. Mason Sr., lead the Wade-In protests and today she joined others along the Coast to pay tribute to protesters like him and Jimerson, but also to remember the fight is not over.
“The legacy of not really dealing with the culture of racism, a culture of injustice and prejudice and how it affects all of us. It’s a cancer and until we seek to eradicate that cancer, we’re going to continue to have these problems and I know that my grandfather would be very upset to hear the recent news about events in Ferguson and Charleston this week,” said Mason.
Representatives from the Civil Rights museum set to open in 2017 in Jackson were also at today’s memorial. They are planning to include testimonies and pictures from Wade-In in their historical archives.
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