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Celia speaker: Racism still here

Celia speaker: Racism still here

December 22nd, 2011 in News

The 7th Annual Celia Memorial Program concludes with a candlelight vigil in front of the Callaway County Courthouse Wednesday night. Celia was hung in front of the courthouse on Dec. 21, 1855, for allegedly murdering her master.

Photo by Katherine Cummins

Racism still exists today.

That was the message of the guest speaker at Wednesday night's 7th Annual Celia Memorial program.

Dr. Larry Brown, an instructor of cultural geography at the University of Missouri, spoke to those gathered at Fulton City Hall on "White Nationalism on the American Landscape: Not Your Grandparents' Little Dixie."

Brown spent three and a half years attending and observing meetings of white supremacy groups in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, and pointed out that such groups have followers across the nation and state - including in central Missouri.

"Here we are in what we still call Little Dixie, a part of the country that prided itself on its southern, slave-owning heritage," said Brown, himself a Callaway County resident. "A lot of folks (that settled this area) were from Kentucky and Tennessee and the Carolinas and Virginia who had one to two to six slaves typically.

"That is our legacy. (My purpose tonight is) to remind ourselves we still have some growing and learning to do."

Brown pointed out that although many people like to think the days of racism in America are behind us, "you still see evidence of (segregation) on the landscape, and in the memories of many of the people in this room."

He noted that in Missouri there are "at any given time 20 to 25 active groups that can clearly be identified as racist."

Brown said he has spent the past 20 years trying to understand the motives of such groups, noting the idea of white male dispossession is a pivotal issue for many of them. He said formation of White Nationalism is "to defend white, male, European-decent civilization," utilizing a strategy of violence.