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‘The Movement Made Us’ Authors to Speak at UM

By Erin Garrett

University of Mississippi

David Dennis Jr.

Authors David Dennis Jr. and David Dennis Sr. are set to host a conversation Tuesday (Oct. 25) at the University of Mississippi about their book, “The Movement Made Us: A Father, a Son and a Legacy of a Freedom Ride.”

“I’m so excited for this event,” said Derrick Harriell, the university’s interim director of African American studies. “To have two generations of Mississippians provide their insights and perspectives of how the legacy of the civil rights movement continues to inform our current reality is noteworthy.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, is set for 6 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Ole Miss Student Union, Room 124.

The book (HarperCollins, 2022) is a poignant account of critical moments in the civil rights movement, touching on both past and present struggles. Dennis Sr. was one of the original Freedom Riders who rode from Montgomery to Jackson in 1961. He never intended to be an activist but found himself immersed in the movement after violence against fellow Freedom Riders. 

Dennis Sr. ultimately helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the challenge to the National Democratic Party in 1964. He went on to serve as field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality and co-director of the Voter Education Committee of the Council of Federated Organizations.

Dennis Jr., a senior writer at ESPN, penned the beginning of the memoir from his father’s perspective. Letters to his father and to his own children are interspersed throughout the work.

Harriell, who is organizing the event, encourages the university community to attend.

“I think we can often view historical moments as something that happened back then and forget how important the vibrations and aftershocks might still be,” he said. “I see this talk as an opportunity for our students to hear about how certain historical moments of resistance impact us every day.”

The discussion is part of the university’s yearlong commemoration of the 60th anniversary of integration, “The Mission Continues: Building Upon the Legacy.” Kathryn McKee, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, was also involved in planning the event.

“The planning committee for the 60th anniversary of integration did not want to limit the commemoration of this moment to a single week or a single day,” McKee said. “Instead, we have created a yearlong calendar of events to remind the university community that the bold actions of a few often pave the way for many. 

“We are honored to welcome the Dennises to the University of Mississippi to talk with us about the legacies of the civil rights movement.”

For a complete list of events and other details about the anniversary of integration, visit https://60years.olemiss.edu/.

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