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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Sept. 9: Historian, Civil Rights Activist to Speak

Prize-winning author M.J. O'Brien and civil rights activist Joan (Trumpauer) Mulholland to discuss Jackson, Miss., Civil Rights Movement.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 9-5-2014

Mankato, Minn. – Historian M.J. O’Brien and civil rights activist Joan (Trumpauer) Mulholland will discuss the history of the Jackson, Miss., Civil Rights Movement in a presentation at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 9 in Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Centennial Student Union Ballroom.

The presentation is free and open to the public and will also stream live online here.

Joan Trumpauer Mulholland participated in the famous Woolworth’s sit-in that occurred on May 28, 1963 in Jackson, Miss. Other sit-in participants included a group of students and faculty from Tougaloo College, a private and historically black institution in north Jackson. The sit-in took place during a time when racial segregation was prevalent in Jackson. A mob arrived, and some students were beaten. The events of the day are summarized in a USA Today article here.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 10, “An Ordinary Hero,” a 90-minute film documentary about Mulholland’s life and experiences in the Civil Rights Movement, will be shown in Ostrander Auditorium, located in Minnesota State Mankato’s Centennial Student Union. A question and answer session with Mulholland will follow. This event is also free and open to the public.

M.J. O’Brien is an independent writer who lives and works in Vienna, Va. His first book, “We Shall Not Be Moved: The Jackson Woolworth’s Sit-In and the Movement It Inspired,” was awarded the prestigious Lillian Smith Book Award, which, according to Wikipedia, honors books and their authors who “through their writing, carry on Smith’s legacy of elucidating the conditions of racial and social inequality and proposing a vision of justice and human understanding.”

The events are among being held in conjunction with Minnesota State Mankato’s common read program, now in its fifth year. This year’s common read book is Anne Moody’s “Coming of Age in Mississippi,” a 1968 memoir about growing up black in Mississippi in the 1940s and 1950s. Moody, a friend of Mulholland, also participated in the Woolworth’s sit-in.

More information about common read events is available at: or or by contacting faculty member Chris Corley by phone at 507-389-5191 or by email at

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,409 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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