Old Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church

Trail Marker

829 47th Avenue, Meridian, MS

Before moving to its present location on James Chaney Drive, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church was located in the building later occupied by New Covenant Church of God in Christ. One of Mt. Olive’s members, Lou Emma Whitlock, was a powerful figure in voter registration activities. She was actively involved in the Crusade for Voters League, and her “telephone trees” were important to politicians seeking office.

On August 4, 1964, Mt. Olive hosted a concert, and everyone who attended will never forget the terrible announcement they heard that night. Folk singer and political activist Pete Seeger came to Meridian as part of Freedom Summer activities to entertain local volunteers. Approximately 200 people assembled at Mt. Olive to hear him. Seeger recalls stopping midsong as someone whispered the news in his ear. After 44 days of waiting and searching, the worst had been confirmed. Seeger announced to the crowd that the bodies of missing Civil Rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman had just been found.

According to local activist Roscoe Jones, after a moment of stunned silence, everyone in the church joined hands and sang “We Shall Overcome,” the iconic anthem of the Civil Rights movement. Three days later, a crowd assembled at Mt. Olive and marched to First Union Missionary Baptist Church for Chaney’s funeral.

Directions to next marker (First Union Missionary Baptist Church): Continue down 47th Avenue to 8th Street; turn left on 8th Street and continue to 38th Avenue; turn right on 38th Avenue and continue 2 blocks to church on left.

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