Civil rights pioneer plans walk across the state of Mississippi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Civil rights pioneer plans walk across the state of Mississippi

(WMC-TV) – The first African American to walk into a class at Ole Miss is now on a journey to re-awaken the African American community – on step at a time.

James Meredith pledged to walk the state of Mississippi on the 50th anniversary of his walk for education and truth.

The civil rights pioneer graduated from high school 61 years ago and says he had far greater opportunities than young African Americans in the 21st century.

"Today, less than one out of 10 can go to any college in America because their college entrance scores are too low," explained James Meredith.

Low scores are a problem he believes is caused by families and churches who are not taking an active role in raising and educating children.

His walk through Mississippi is a far cry from his march in 1966 from Memphis to Jackson, where he was shot while encouraging African Americans to vote. He is now joined by his young grandnephew and Georgia Cohran.

Meredith says equal rights are no longer the issue. He believes it is education, self respect, and cultural advancement that are lacking.

"All of us keep talking about what somebody else did to us, what somebody else owes us, what somebody else ought to do for us. Our future depends upon what we do," he said.

The author and civil rights activist began his journey at the Tennessee state line and plans to continue throughout the summer spreading his message until he reaches the Louisiana border.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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