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Between Remembrance and RepairCommemorating Racial Violence in Philadelphia, Mississippi$
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Claire Whitlinger

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469656335

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469656335.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

A Philadelphia (Mississippi) Story

A Philadelphia (Mississippi) Story

Remembering in Black and White

(p.16) 1 A Philadelphia (Mississippi) Story
Between Remembrance and Repair

Claire Whitlinger

University of North Carolina Press

Previous research on Philadelphia, Mississippi and Neshoba County focuses overwhelmingly on the 1964 murders and subsequent legal trials (in 1967 and 2005), providing relatively little insight into the area’s commemorative practices. Furthermore, such research often depicts the twenty-five years following the murders as “the long silence,” a description that is not entirely accurate. It overlooks the annual commemoration services hosted by Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, the African American church that the three civil rights movement workers visited just before their deaths. This chapter recognizes and reconstructs the commemorative activities of Philadelphia’s African American community, including Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Neshoba County in 1966 and other resistance to the local Ku Klux Klan. Doing so uncovers two distinct communities of memory: one characterized by Philadelphia’s dominant white public sphere, the official, government-sanctioned memory; the other representing a powerful and persistent countermemory embedded in Philadelphia’s African American community. In doing so, this chapter positions the twenty-fifth and fortieth anniversary commemorations within historical context, uncovering the mnemonic landscape that preceded the emergence of these two community-wide commemoration services.

Keywords:   Civil Rights Movement, commemoration, countermemory, Ku Klux Klan, Neshoba County, Martin Luther King, Jr., Memory, Philadelphia, Mississippi, public sphere, silence

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