Panel discusses black women’s history in Hattiesburg


courtesy photo

The library of Hattiesburg hosted a panel discussion titled “Six Women and the Black Experience in Hattiesburg, 1950-2018” on Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

“This panel is intended to serve as a bridge between Black History Month and Women’s History Month by focusing on the black women of Hattiesburg who have served as the activists to create economic, political and social change, as well as historians, who have witnessed and commented on such change,” history professor at Southern Miss and the panel’s moderator Rebecca Tuuri, Ph.D., said.

Madison Kathey and Erin Eatman, both seniors at Hattiesburg High School, were also on the panel to discuss their participation in an oral history project collaboration between Hattiesburg High School and Southern Miss.   

As part of the project, the two find people who attended Hattiesburg High School during the time period they researched and then conducted interviews with them.

“We really just want them to talk about their experiences growing up in Hattiesburg, whether it be in Hattiesburg High specifically or living in Hattiesburg during the civil rights movement, and we try to analyze that and relate it to our current situation,” Eatman said.

Kathey and Eatman have been working on the project since 2017 when they were sophomores.

“We are wrapping the project up now. The whole goal of this was to fill a gap in the historical record because people don’t know about the desegregation of Hattiesburg High School, and then we take what we learn from our research and try to come up with solutions for how to move forward and be better,” Kathey said.

All of the interviews they have conducted are available in the Southern Miss’ Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage.

Also on the panel was Carolyn Abrams and Doris Gaines, who spoke about their experience growing up in Hattiesburg during segregation and their upcoming book “The Class of 1968: A Thread Through Time.”

The book is a collection of stories from people who were a part of the class of 1968 in Hattiesburg.

“A lot of people talk about their experience growing up in a segregated school system. We talk about the quality of teachers we had even though the schools were segregated. And we talk about how we made do with the old textbooks and how we were a family,”  Abrams said. “We were blessed here in Hattiesburg to have teachers that, in spite of not having the resources that the other schools had, went above and beyond to prepare us.”

Olivia Moore, a Southern Miss doctoral student in history, also participated on the panel and spoke about her research into the civil rights movement in Hattiesburg and the help she provided Abrams and Gaines on their book.

The library of Hattiesburg will be holding several events throughout March to celebrate Women’s History Month. On March 13, they will hold the lecture “The Journey to the 19th Amendment” at 6 p.m.

photo courtesy Library of Hattiesburg on Facebook