A commemorative event celebrated by Centenary UMC in collaboration with Germantown UMC
June 25, 2016
In 1966, James Meredith marched from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to highlight continuing racism in the South and to encourage voter registration after the passage of the Voting Rights act of 1965. Meredith’s cause still resonates today, as issues of voter registration and social injustice linger.
A Call to Courage
On the 50th anniversary of his historic march, Centenary UMC, in collaboration with Germantown UMC, will celebrate and reflect on Meredith’s bravery and activism at an event called A Call to Courage.
It started with one.
When he began his journey, Meredith didn’t want large crowds or media attention – he intended it to be a solitary 220 mile walk.
Change of Plans
Things changed when, on the second day of his walk, Meredith was shot and injured by a white gunman. Major civil rights organizations rallied to his side and vowed to help finish the march. Among the organizers of this effort was James Lawson, then pastor of Centenary UMC. Photo
triumphantly entered Jackson, Mississippi, on June 26, 1966, making it the largest civil rights march in the history of the state. Prominent civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr., joined in support, bringing futher national attention to Meredith’s cause. Along the way, participants registered over 4,000 African Americans for voting, providing the bedrock for continued community organizing and political growth among African Americans in the state of Mississippi.
A Call to Courage Commemorating James Meredith's March Against Fear Fifty Years Later
Centenary United Methodist Church will celebrate and share the importance of this historic event and Centenary’s role as the strategic planning site with a new generation. Additionally, there will also be a call to courage and commitment to social justice.
Schedule of Events
9:00 a.m. - Event Opens
Voter Registration Drive Volunteers will be in place to help guests make sure they are registered to vote in Tennessee, and to help restore voters' rights.
Civil Rights Exhibit An exhibit about the March Against Fear will be open throughout the event.
10:00 a.m. – Program Begins
Keynote Speaker Dr. Aram Goudsouzian, University of Memphis History Department Chair, and author of Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.
Panel Discussion Panelists will discuss the historical perspective and relevance of a call to courage. Mr. James Meredith will also share some brief remarks. Panelists include:
- Dr. Charles McKinney (Moderator) Associate Professor of History; Director, Africana Studies Program at Rhodes College
- Dr. Maxie Dunnam President Emeritus of Asbury Theological Seminary
- A C Wharton Former mayor of Memphis and Shelby County
- Alvin O. Chambliss, Jr., Esq. Professor and “the last original civil rights attorney in America”
- Archie Willis, III Founder and President of Community Capital LLC
- Vanecia Belser Kimbrow, Esq. Managing Attorney, Law Office of Vanecia Belser Kimbrow
Each panelist will opine where we are now in Shelby County, our region and country given the sacrifices of individuals like Mr. Meredith. They will also discuss remaining issues and challenges we face and to be forthright in celebrating progress made while announcing steps that must be taken to continue to advance the cause of racial reconciliation and social justice.