The Commercial Appeal: Illegal immigrants, supporters to re-create 1966 march

Daniel Connolly writes about the increasing links between the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the Immigrants Rights Movement in the South:

In 1966, James Meredith set out on a protest walk from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., calling it the “March Against Fear.”

At the time, such an act by a black man could provoke violence. Deadly rioting had erupted when Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1962, and he would survive a shooting shortly after he began the walk.

This year, a young woman from El Salvador named Ingrid Cruz sought out an aging Meredith in Jackson. Would he endorse the concept of a Walk Against Fear, this time focused on immigration matters?

He would. An online video shows a gray-bearded Meredith in an Ole Miss baseball cap talking with Cruz. In a halting voice, he says he supports her effort. “And we’re gonna do all we can to make it a big success,” he said.

Meredith is expected to appear at the National Civil Rights Museum today as Cruz and other members of a small group make speeches before setting off on a weeks-long journey down U.S. 51 to protest what they call anti-immigrant racism. They’re scheduled to arrive April 7 in Jackson.

Cruz is a 25-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Jackson, but two other young men making the march, Memphis residents Patricio Gonzalez and Jose Salazar, acknowledge that they’re living in the country without legal permission. Read more …

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