Historic Williams Chapel Church in Ruleville will once again ring withsounds of freedom on Saturday, Oct. 7 with a recreation of a 1960s mass meeting in conjunction with the celebration of Fannie Lou Hamer’s 100th birthday.
Williams Chapel made history in the 1960s as the first location in Sunflower County of mass meetings for minority voting rights when organizers with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) could find no other location in the county to host them due to fears of reprisal by the staunchly and aggressively segregationist white power structure.
The event, sponsored by the Sunflower County Democratic Executive Committee, will start at 2 p.m. at the church, located on the southeast corner of Langdon and O.B. Streets. Although its primary focus will be for the education of young people, the public is invited to the free event. It will feature freedom songs led by the youth group Young Steppers of Indianola.
Leading the rally will be Charles McLaurin of Indianola, SNCC’s Sunflower County Field Director who organized the Freedom Movement in the 1960s in Sunflower County. Other veterans of the movement also may attend.
The event is being hosted with the cooperation of the Mississippi Young Democratsand the Fannie Lou Hamer Garden and Museum Foundation.
As part of the celebration, the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum located at 710 Byron St. in Ruleville Byron Street (one block east of Williams Chapel) will open at noon on Saturday, Oct. 7 so visitors can learn more about the life of Mrs. Hamer and the history of the local movement. Visitors also may drop by the adjacent Fannie Lou Hamer Gravesite and Memorial Garden. The SDEC will hold its regular meeting at the complex starting at noon. Visitors are invited to attend them meeting or the museum located there.
The rally will be a subsidiary event of the Fannie Lou Hamer Centennial Celebration set for Friday, Oct. 6,