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Local civil rights activist donates papers to MSU


Tim Pratt



One of the most prominent civil rights activists in Oktibbeha County history is donating her personal papers to Mississippi State University. 


Material being provided by Dorothy Bishop, whose work in the community began at age 17, will be housed in the special collections department of the university''s Mitchell Memorial Library.  


The Bishop Collection will feature everything from documents related to voter registration and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People member solicitation to fundraising and program planning. 


Bishop this week recalled the 1960s fondly. Back then, she and her mother drove all over Starkville, knocked on doors and tried to register African-Americans to vote.  


"We went all over this town," Bishop said. "I bet we knocked on the door of every house in this town in the ''60s. That''s all we did. We''d have a van and take a load of people (to register), then we''d take them home and go get another load." 


Bishop went on to serve for 12 years as youth adviser for the county''s Youth NAACP chapter before becoming the local civil rights organization''s first woman president in 1993. For playing an active advocacy role in the community on a number of issues, she earned several NAACP honors, including the 1994 Fannie Lou Hamer Award.  


In recent years, Bishop has pushed the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors to construct a civil rights monument in town. She also protested the all-white jury in the October capital murder trial of Bobby Batiste, who is black.  


Bishop''s papers join those of other African-American Mississippians at Mitchell Memorial Library, including Myrna Colley-Lee, Dr. Douglas Conner, Katherine Esters, Quincy Hilliard, Dr. Richard Holmes, Rosie Jackson, Ella Bardwell Ward, and Robert and Sadye Weir. 


It adds to a growing body of personal and professional material that documents the post-Civil War lives of African-Americans and their contributions, said Mattie Sink, manuscripts coordinator for special collections. 


"This donation will boost a collection that has great value to any student of the Mississippi civil rights movement," Sink said, adding that Bishop''s contributions give personal insights into the modern history of the 462-square-mile county formed in 1833 and recognized for much of the 20th century as a dairy farming center.  


Sink said a library committee "has worked diligently over the last few years to acquire additional collections of African Americans, focusing in particular on persons from Northeast Mississippi." 


"The library''s materials related to Starkville and Oktibbeha County have particular depth, with more than 100 separate collections, including the recently acquired Todd A. Herring Collection documenting the antebellum slave period," she added. 


For more information about donating personal or organizational papers to Mitchell Memorial Library, contact Sink at 662-325-3848 or [email protected] edu.




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