The Overby Center hosted a panel discussion Friday for the documentary “An Ordinary Hero” and the book “We Shall Not Be Moved” concerning the 1960 Woolworth sit-in in Jackson.
The Overby Center held a panel discussion for the documentary “An Ordinary Hero” and Michael J. O’Brien’s book, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” on Friday.
The film tells the story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland at a sit-in in the Woolworth diner in Jackson during the civil rights movement. The panel featured Joan Mulholland, civil rights activist, freedom rider and participant in the sit-in; O’Brien; the Rev. Ed King, University of Mississippi Medical School faculty member and organizer of the sit-in; and Loki Mulholland, son of Joan Mulholland.
“The panel is all-white because we wanted to show you all that there were white Americans involved in the civil rights movement as activists,” said Bill Rose, leader of the panel discussion and Overby Fellow.
Loki Mulholland created the documentary, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that he knew of his mother’s deep involvement with the sit-in movement and realized there was a story to be told.
“I have no regrets,” Joan said.
“I was a Southerner, and Southerners are determined folks, we all know that. I was actually safer at the counter than I would’ve been had I been recognized in the crowd. I never realized I was in big trouble. We knew once we got there what we were getting ourselves into, and once you accept that, you just think, what’s the worst that can happen?”
Joan revealed that she never talked about her involvement in the civil rights movement in the past, and it was not until recently that she started sharing with good friend Michael O’Brien.
Throughout the 20 years of research for his book related to the Woolworth sit-in and the civil rights movement, O’Brien talked with demonstrators in the sit-in, protesters of the sit-in, policemen and reporters at the time and wove the stories together.
“By the students reading the book and seeing the documentary, they are able to get the full story,” O’Brien said.
“That iconic picture (of the Woolworth sit-in) doesn’t tell it all. What the picture doesn’t show is that there were more demonstrators on the other side of the counter experiencing just as much as the others were that are in that picture.”
O’Brien’s book was released this past month and can be found on display at Square Books.
The role of the media during that time was also discussed at the panel.
“They chose to let some people stay ignorant,” King said.
“It wasn’t just white or blacks or just men. It was women, too, serving on the front line as well as children and elders. There were students from Germany who said, ‘We know what our parents failed to do. Can we come to Mississippi and work with you?’”