On October 18 and 19, 2019, Andalman & Flynn’s founding partner, Elliott Andalman, and his wife, Martha Bergmark, embarked upon the “Great Mississippi Road Trip of 2019,” an enthralling educational venture that wound through the Mississippi Delta and the city of Jackson. The enlightening two-day event was sponsored by the Mississippi Center for Justice, a 15-year old organization founded by Ms. Bergmark and dedicated to fighting for economic and racial justice in Mississippi.
The trip involved visits to numerous important historical landmarks. A highlight of the trip was witnessing the dedication of a new historical marker at Graball Landing in the Mississippi Delta where Emmet Till’s body was found in 1955. The publication of the mutilation and drowning of Emmit Till for allegedly whistling at a white woman, and the refusal of an all-white jury to convict the murderers, is considered by some as the spark that led to the modern Civil Rights movement. The group also visited a Fannie Lou Hamer memorial, the B.B. King Museum, and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, among other weekend activities. Civil Rights historian Robbie Luckett was on the trip and provided significant background information.
The group also learned about the important work of the Mississippi Center for Justice, including the representation of immigrants recruited to work in the chicken plants of Mississippi that were recently raided and many of whom are now facing deportation; work to improve the Sunflower County schools; and representation of Curtis Flowers, who is in the unheard-of position of having been tried six times over 22 years in rural Mississippi for one murder. Two trials led to hung juries and four others led to convictions that were reversed by higher courts because of prosecutorial misconduct. Most recently, the case was heard by the United States Supreme Court earlier this year. The podcast “In the Dark, Season 2” makes it clear that Curtis Flowers is not guilty of this murder.
“This trip provided a fascinating and somewhat unsettling look into the past and present of Civil Rights in Mississippi,” said Mr. Andalman. “It’s important for all of us to know our American history.”
Having opened its doors in 2003, the Mississippi Center for Civil Rights is a home-grown public interest law firm dedicated to advancing racial and economic justice through an approach that combines legal services with policy advocacy, community education and media advocacy. The Center partners with national, regional and community organizations and volunteers to develop and implement campaigns that are creating better futures for low-wealth Mississippians and communities of color in the areas of educational opportunity, financial security, access to healthcare, public benefits, and affordable housing and community development.