On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, over 150 people gathered at Friends School of Minnesota for a community-wide sing along and stories from the civil rights movement with Hollis Watkins. He shared his personal stories of being persecuted and jailed during the 1960’s in Mississippi and answered audience questions. Then he got the crowd  up out of their seats clapping and singing. Most importantly he spoke about the power of young people and that we need to ask them, “What can we do for you?

Hollis Watkin's visit to Friends School of Minnesota drew a crowd of over 150 people.

Hollis Watkin’s visit to Friends School of Minnesota drew a crowd of over 150 people.

Hollis Watkins
Hollis Watkins keeps the music and stories of of civil rights movement alive.

Hollis Watkins’ message was one of having faith in yourself, showing courage even when you feel fear and a believing that people everywhere can make a difference if they stand together to speak up against injustice and inequality.

“When Hollis Watkins sang the song about Medgar Evers [civil rights activist and NAACP field secretary assassinated in 1963] it was so moving. It really brought it all to life – what it would have been like in that summer in Mississippi…the sorrow…fear…the outrage.”  – parent of an FSMN alumna

children on stage with Hollis Watkins
Hollis Watkins said to the children gathered on the stage, “You can make a difference”.
Hollis Watkins
Hollis Watkins believes that it is the young people that have made the greatest change throughout history.
sing-along with Hollis Watkins
Many Friends School of Minnesota families joined in singing.

This community event was free and open to the public. It was co-sponsored by Friends School of Minnesota and Southside Family Charter School with the collaboration and support of Hamline University’s Conflict Studies program.

More about Hollis Watkins

Hollis Watkins continues the musical traditions of the civil rights movement in the struggle of today. Having been sustained by music when he was hanging from handcuffs in a cell in Parchman prison in the  60’s, Hollis includes the musical traditions of the civil rights movement into the struggle of today, making it part of his organizing and bringing its message to a new generation of activists.

Hollis Watkins is the founder and president of Southern Echo, Inc., a leadership development, education, training, and technical assistance organization dedicated to empowering local residents throughout Mississippi and the Southern region to make political, economic, educational, and environmental systems accountable to the needs and interests of the African-American community.

The twelfth child born to sharecroppers in Lincoln County, Mississippi, Hollis has spent a lifetime in pursuit of racia l justice in his home state. He was nineteen when he became the first Mississippi student to join the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as a voting rights organizer. Almost immediately, he learned of the danger to those who resist entrenched and unprincipled power. During the years that he worked as an organizer for SNCC, he was repeatedly arrested and jailed. Later he served as the director of the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Program of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives before founding Southern Echo in 1990. www.southernecho.org