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Mississippi's Exiled Daughter

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Mississippi's Exiled Daughter

Category: Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Format: Trade Paper, 160 pages
Pub Date: Spring 2018
Price: $21.95
ISBN: 978-1-58838-329-7
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Mississippi’s Exiled Daughter is the riveting story of how the Civil Rights Movement first came to McComb, Mississippi, one of the most violent and segregated towns in a violent, segregated State. The central character in this story is Brenda Travis, whose birth in 1945 foreshadowed a life of “exile” both for her and her family. Her parents had been sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta, but had to flee the plantation on which her father and mother worked, because he had stood up to the plantation owner in defense of his wife who was pregnant with Brenda at the time. Brenda’s father had to go into hiding because of his courageous act, and Brenda was not to meet or get to know him until she was in her thirties.

Life in a small segregated Mississippi town was filled with the strength that an all black community could provide its youth in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but danger was always right around the corner. Brenda witnessed the death of a black youth, similar to her in age in pictures in Jet magazine, and shortly after her own brother was taken away in the night by white police officers, leaving Brenda to only imagine that her brother would join in Emmett Till’s fate. While she was only nine at the time, she vowed to herself that one day she would be part of making her world better. Little did she know that she would fulfill that vow seven years later.

Readers of this book will see how Robert Moses of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, in conjunction with local McComb residents including CC Bryant, established the first beachhead for the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi in 1961. Sixteen year old Brenda, the President of the NAACP youth organization, knew that she had found her calling. With two others, she the only girl, attempted to integrate McComb’s Greyhound bus station, for which she was arrested and put in jail along with the others for almost thirty days.

Upon being released from jail, she went to return to her all black high school, but was informed by the principal that she was being expelled because of her Civil Rights activities. This led to a walkout of the Burglund High School by more than 100 of her fellow students, who along with Brenda marched on City Hall. All were arrested, but only Brenda was sent to a reform school for girls under an indefinite sentence.

Brenda was ultimately to be released from the reformatory after six months, but on a condition set by the Governor of the State of Mississippi, the segregationist Ross Barnett, that she must leave the State within 24 hours never to return or to risk being further incarcerated. Thus, began an exile that would take Brenda from Mississippi to Alabama to Georgia, to South Carolina, Illinois, Connecticut and ultimately California. This incredibly strong young woman would grow into adulthood, would continue her Civil Rights Activities and in a very heartfelt journey, would be united with her father, and reunited with her mother in California. Having been born into a Movement, Brenda Travis has continued the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and today has established the Brenda Travis Historical Education Foundation in McComb to educate the youth of today on the valiant efforts of their forbearers who brought change to McComb and Mississippi. Mississippi’s Exiled Daughter is the story of one woman’s courage, fortitude, great faith and hope despite exile and incredible obstacles.