College students have been called the life force of the Civil Rights Movement. From all over the country and here in the Jackson metro area, students led rallies, voter registration drives and were targets in the fight for equality. One student group called the Tougaloo Nine helped change history in Jackson and the nation.
Tougaloo College in the 1960s was known as a place of safety for civil rights workers. Students were trained on this campus for voter registration drives. Many of the events such as the Freedom Rides and sit-ins were planned here.
"Medgar Evers began with his Youth Councils here at the college," explained Tougaloo College President Beverly Wade Hogan. "You know Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, you had Joan Baez, you had Bob Dillon, you had Harry Belafonte, you had Sidney Poitier. You had all these people coming to talk to the students but even before then George Washington Carver came to the campus to speak and to give lectures."
The Tougaloo Nine were members of the NAACP Youth Council. They attempted to use the white only Jackson Public Library in 1961. When they refused to leave they were arrested for disturbing the peace.
Students from Jackson State marched to the jail in support and were met and attacked with clubs, tear gas and dogs.
"These students went forth and really made a difference and that's what I tell the students today, that the world was really changed through largely student activism," said Dr. Hogan. "And its amazing what students can do when they put their minds and hearts to good purposes."
Tougaloo students were attacked again during a sit in at the Woolworth's in Downtown Jackson in May of 1963.
"Where we are today as African American people didn't just simply happen," added Dr. Hogan. "You had courageous men and women who took sacrificial risks to ensure that the world in which they would inherit would be much better than the one that they had lived in."
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