Ira Harkey was the outspoken editor of The Pascagoula Chronicle (now the Mississippi Press) from 1948-63. Harkey’s writings called for peaceful integration of schools, noting that local leaders were essential to this effort. Harkey believed James Meredith deserved the opportunity to attend Ole Miss and, despite death threats, he wrote in favor of that position. Local white supremacist groups organized against him resulting in decreased circulation and advertising. Despite these difficulties, he held firm to his beliefs. In 1963, Harkey won the Pulitzer Prize for his editorial writing during the University of Mississippi’s integration, though few acknowledged the positive contribution he made.
In 1967, Harkey wrote his autobiography, “The Smell of Burning Crosses.” The title is attributed to a cross that was burned in his yard after the 1954 Supreme Court ruled on the issue of integration.
Harkey taught at Ohio State University, the University of Alaska, and Columbia University.
He died on October 8, 2006.
Crocker, Brad. “Ira Harker’s Death Energizes Documentary,”The Missisippi Press. 22 October 2006.
“Ira Harkey, 88; Won Pulitzer for Editorials,”New York Times. 11 October 2006.
Bilbo Rodgers participated in Freedom Summer 1964 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Rodgers was born in November 1924 to a sharecropping family in Louisville, Mississippi. Following service in the Army during World War II, Rogers moved to Pascagoula to work at the International Paper Company, a job he would hold for thirty-five years. During Freedom Summer 1964, Rodgers participated in sit-ins at segregated restaurants, and in wade-ins at area beaches.
University of Southern Mississippi and Tougaloo College Civil Rights Documentation Project,
Julia Rodgers Holmes was born on May 12, 1950 in Meridian, Mississippi. She is the daughter of Bilbo and Claudia Rodgers and the eldest of seven children. She spent her childhood in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She attended Skip Street Elementary, graduated from Carver High in 1968 as valedictorian of her class, and attended the University of Southern Mississippi where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Library Science. She’s a member of numerous organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta, Moss Point-Jackson County Branch of the NAACP and SCLC, and serves on the board of the Jackson County Arts Council.
University of Southern Mississippi and Tougaloo College Civil Rights Documentation Project, http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-holmes_julia.shtml
Franzetta Sanders was born on September 2, 1936 in Moss Point. In the 1960s, she was an active member in the local NAACP, working to integrate public accommodations. She was integral in bringing Head Start to the Gulf Coast, and served first as a teacher, and then as the Director of Resource Centers. Sanders sued the Moss Point School in the 1960s in order to integrate the schools.
University of Southern Mississippi and Tougaloo College Civil Rights Documentation Project, http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-sanders_franzetta_w.shtml.
Deborah Rand, a graduate of Carleton College and a Freedom Summer 1964 Volunteer, worked in Moss Point on voter registration and at the Freedom School. She later served as a teacher, then became a lawyer focused on housing issues.
Civil Rights Movement Veteran Roll Call, http://www.crmvet.org/vet/randd.htm.