Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech may be 51 years old, but his message still resonates today. Protests over recent shootings of unarmed black men mirrored many of the marches King led in his day. Gordon Jackson of the Biloxi N.A.A.C.P. says, "A lot of people are thinking and saying that it’s time for maybe a new Civil Rights Movement because they feel that some of the rights that they fought and died for and were able to win 50 years ago are starting to be eroded and taken away."
Jackson explains many forms of racism or discrimination seen today are hidden, compared with much of the blatant segregation James Crowell saw in his childhood. Crowell, also with the Biloxi N.A.A.C.P., says, "I grew up during the Civil Rights time frame in my teenage years, and I remember us protesting and going and integrating the movies, the movie houses, the restaurants."
Mississippi is most famously remembered for its Freedom Summer 51 years ago. On the Coast, wade-ins in 1959 and 1960 finally led to the integration of all beaches. Crowell also says, "Felt that since federal dollars had been used to build that beach, then we should be entitled to go to whatever part of the beach was accessible to the public."
While major progress has been made in Mississippi and throughout the nation, many communities still battle discrimination today, but advocates like Jackson believe education and economic development are key to a more equal future.
Jackson closes, "And when you see a lack of education and then also a lack of economic development in a community, that’s where you see a young person, a young boy, a young man, a young woman who has aspirations feel that the only options that they have are negative courses of action."