Mississippi Civil Rights Project provides history online

In this Oct. 22, 2010 file photo Lawrence Guyot recalls his work in Hattiesburg in Hattiesburg, Miss. A newly revamped website, the Mississippi Civil Rights Project, focuses on efforts to change a Southern state that has grappled with a long history of racial injustice. The site includes links to oral histories, including a 2010 interview with Guyot. He led voter-registration efforts in the 1960s for African-Americans in Mississippi who were largely barred from political participation. (AP Photo/Rogelio V.
By: 
EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A newly revamped website focuses on efforts to change a Southern state that has grappled with a long history of racial injustice.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Project is sponsored by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi.

The site has an interactive map with information about local people important to the movement and local events such as school desegregation efforts.

It offers suggestions on articles, books, and online documents about the state's history.

It includes links to oral histories, including a 2010 interview with Lawrence Guyot (GHEE-ott), posted to the Library of Congress website.

"There was no state more oppressive than Mississippi," Guyot tells interviewer Julian Bond, a fellow civil rights activist.

Guyot, born in 1939 in coastal Pass Christian, Mississippi, became active in the civil rights movement as a student at Tougaloo College in Jackson. As a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he pushed voter-registration efforts in the 1960s for African-Americans in Mississippi who were largely barred from political participation.

Guyot was also involved in Freedom Summer in 1964, when black and white students from other states faced violence and intimidation from local whites as they worked in Mississippi to register black voters and provide education in poor African-American communities.

"'We can't bring Mississippi to America, but we can bring America to Mississippi,'" Guyot said of what activists simply called the 1964 summer project. "We found out we could not protect ourselves. We were going to be picked off one-by-one. We were organizing against the entire state apparatus of Mississippi."

Guyot earned a law degree and worked in District of Columbia government. He was 73 when he died in 2012 at his home in Mount Rainier, Maryland. Bond, who was elected to the Georgia General Assembly in 1965 and later became chairman of the NAACP, was 75 when he died in 2015.

April Grayson, who works as a community building coordinator for the Winter Institute, said the Mississippi Civil Rights project site is designed to be used by Mississippi teachers and students, but organizers hope it will also have a wider reach beyond state lines.

"We'd love scholars from all walks of life and areas of the world to use it," Grayson said Friday.

The Winter Institute started the civil rights website with the same name about a decade ago but it was "in a very different format that was not very user friendly," Grayson said. She said more information has been added, and the site was updated to look better and to be easier to navigate. Grayson the Winter Institute is seeking readers' contributions that could be fact-checked and added to the site.
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