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Civil rights activist the Rev. Edwin King will deliver the President's Distinguished Lecture in History, titled "Opening Mississippi and America: Racism, Freedom Summer and the Freedom Democratic Party, 1964-2004," Thursday, Feb. 5.

The lecture, in conjunction with the ODU history department's Black History Month observance, will be held at 8 p.m. in the Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building auditorium at Old Dominion University. It is free and open to the public.

King was a leading civil rights activist in Mississippi in the 1960s. Among others, he worked with Medgar Evers, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

As a student at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., from 1954 to 1958, he saw the forces of white supremacy mobilize against the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Taking a leave from seminary in the North in 1960, King enlisted in the war against Jim Crow. He worked with students involved in sit-ins in Alabama and Freedom Riders in Mississippi.

He had left the state to study for the ministry, but returned at the urging of Evers to become chaplain at Tougaloo College. Rev. King, who is white, led the kneel-in campaign to desegregate large all-white churches in Jackson, Miss. Today, he is on the staff of one of them, Galloway United Methodist. He was a candidate for lieutenant governor in the mock election of 1963 held by civil rights organizations to demonstrate that blacks would vote if permitted to do so.

In 1964, King was a leading organizer of Freedom Summer and he was involved in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party. He is the subject of a chapter in the book "God's Long Summer." Historian John Dittmer has written that Edwin King was "the most visible white activist in the Mississippi [civil rights] movement, and he paid a heavy price for honoring his convictions." He was arrested and jailed, beaten and even hospitalized.

King has worked for the past several years on the staff of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he specializes in the recruitment and retention of minority medical students. He lectures extensively on his experiences in the civil rights movement and participates in seminars.

For more information about the lecture call 683-3114.

This article was posted on: January 13, 2004

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

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