Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Veterans Conference 2015 Report Back


“Stand up for what is right even if you are the only one standing,” Hollis Watkins said to students in the Hip-Hop Detoxx session during the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Inc. annual conference.

The 10th anniversary conference from March 18-21, 2015 was a gathering of Civil Rights veterans, community activists, teachers, and students on the campus of Tougaloo College.

Teaching for Change staff member Julian Hipkins III attended the conference and shared these highlights. (To learn more, read the brief overview of the conference prepared by the conference organizers.)

Focus on Youth

In Hip-Hop Detoxx, co-founder Enoch Muhammad spoke about the importance of having pride in the accomplishments of past generations in order to gain strength to be successful in the future. During the conference, numerous sessions were held to honor the courage of the veterans and focus on the present state of all the rights that they fought for.


Hollis Watkins


Enoch Muhammad

The Canton High School concert choir performed, followed by a video tribute to fallen heroes of the Mississippi freedom struggle.

Contemporary Politics 

Rosa Clemente of the Green Party spoke about the importance of being politically active and thinking outside of the box of the two party system. The conversation was moderated by Frank Figgers.


Carroll Rhodes and Derrick Johnson.

Attorney Carroll Rhodes and Derrick Johnson, Mississippi NAACP state president, spoke about the need to be knowledgeable about laws put in place to prevent citizens from voting.

During lunch, Dave Dennis spoke about his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. He was introduced by Dennis Dahmer, son of murdered Civil Rights Movement activist Vernon Dahmer. Tougaloo College president Dr. Beverly Hogan stressed the importance of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) today.


Dr. Beverly Hogan


Dennis Dahmer


Dave Dennis.

Public Education

In the session “Going Public: The Preservation and Improvement of Public Schools, The Bottom Quartile: Lifting America’s Floor,” moderator William Buster of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation guided the panel in a discussion of the preservation and improvement of public schools. The panelists were Dr. Ella Davis, Dave Dennis, and Sabrina Stevens (via Skype.)


William Buster, Sabrina Stevens, Dr. Ella Davis, Dave Dennis


William Buster and Julian Hipkins III

The conference was a reminder of the progress that has been made and the long road ahead for justice.