In the summer of 2015, the Southern Documentary Project partnered with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to produce 50 Years and Forward: The Voting Rights Act in Mississippi. Andy Harper, Director of the Southern Documentary Project and Becca Walton of the Center did the oral history interviews for the film. The interviewees shared their own experiences as activists and politicians in 1965, and looked forward to present and future access to voting rights in the state. Each also told fascinating stories about other events that we could not include in the short film.

Here, we share State Senator David Jordan’s account of attending the Emmett Till murder trial in 1955 while a student at Mississippi Valley State University. He speaks of seeing Till’s mother Mrs. Mamie Till, who was accompanied by Senator Charles Diggs of Michigan. He also recounts seeing Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, Till’s murderers. The interview was conducted on 8 July 2015 at MDAH’s William Winter Archives Building in Jackson.

You can watch 50 Years and Forward here. To explore an MDAH photography collection that we used extensively in the film, click here.

SouthDocs has hundreds of hours of interviews conducted for its films, and only a small part makes it into each film. On Mississippi Stories, we will continue to share outtakes.