Meredith lined up with Memphians at AutoZone Park Saturday afternoon to participate in the National Civil Rights Museum’s “Rally Against Fear,” a celebration of the March Against Fear, also known as the Meredith March. Meredith integrated the University of Mississippi in 1962.
The original march began in Memphis June 5, 1966. Meredith and a few supporters organized the walk to encourage voter registration for African-Americans and intended to finish in Jackson, Mississippi. However, the next day he was shot as he walked down a road near Hernando. Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael and Floyd McKissick stepped in to continue for him.
“Meredith was marching against the terrorism that was being piled on around white supremacy and discrimination. That work was the beginning, it was not an ending,” museum President Terri Lee Freeman said. “There is so much more that we have to do.”
About 100 people walked alongside Meredith, traveling from AutoZone Park to the courtyard of the museum. The route took the marchers near two Downtown locations where citizens were recently killed — 18 year-old Myneishia Johnson was shot May 22 near the Flying Saucer restaurant and Officer Verdell Smith was struck by a fleeing car near Beale and Third Street June 4.
“I think this idea of rallying against fear (is important) in particular because of what we’ve been seeing lately here in Memphis,” Freeman said. “There is this real need for the symbolism that says we’re not going to live in fear in our own community.”
Meredith told the crowd families needed to take responsibility for youth’s actions and teach them right from wrong to prevent future tragedies.
“I heard somebody refer to the 99 … that’s been killed on record this year in Memphis,” Meredith, 82, said. “My God tells me control of all of that is in our hands. What we have to do as a people is teach our children good and right.”
After the rally, the city recorded its 100 homicide outside Family Dollar in North Memphis.
Several museum officials and community leaders spoke during the rally, which included a voter-registration drive…