Civil rights history law could be historic one

Daily Journal reports

JACKSON – With one stroke of his pen, Gov. Haley Barbour can make history by allowing Mississippi schools to teach civil rights history.

A bill to do so was on its way to his desk Wednesday after it passed the House. It already had cleared the Senate, shepherded by Oxford's Gray Tollison. Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville was a leading advocate in his chamber.

“No other state has a law like this,” said Susan Glisson, executive director of the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, who spearheaded the legislation. “I think it would be significant for Mississippi to be the first.”

The idea for the legislation came from Glisson's conversations with history teachers during civil rights workshops sponsored by the institute, based at the University of Mississippi.

The bill would create a civil rights education commission that works directly with the state Department of Education on a history curriculum.

When she heard about the bill's passage, Glisson was driving through the Delta on her way to teach a civil rights history class.

“I stopped at Mrs. Hamer's grave and said a little prayer,” she said, referring to the late Fannie Lou Hamer of Ruleville, whose testimony before the U.S. Civil Rights Commission during the 1960s helped push passage of civil rights laws nationwide.

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