“Mississippi Remixed” documentary spotlights Carson-Newman president
(Feb. 11, 2014) – A documentary focused on race relations in Mississippi, spotlights Carson-Newman University President Randall O’Brien and a story he shares with fellow Mississippi native, Brenda Travis. “Mississippi Remixed” airs Thursday, Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. on East Tennessee PBS. It is the Knoxville station’s second airing of the film having first featured it on Sunday, Feb. 9.
Along with airing on East Tennessee PBS, “Mississippi Remixed” has been featured on PBS stations in many U.S. cities.
“I think the documentary is a fine contribution to the civil rights movement,” said O’Brien, of the hour-long program by Myra Ottewell.
O’Brien’s story focuses on meeting one his “heroes” of the civil rights movement, Brenda Travis. O’Brien and Travis both grew up in McComb, Mississippi. Travis, a civil rights activist, was jailed for entering the “white only” Greyhound Bus Station in 1961, and was deprived from graduating from high school.
Forty-five years later during a special ceremony in McComb, Travis was invited back to receive her high school diploma along with about a dozen others who had been treated similarly.
O’Brien became aware of the ceremony and drove to McComb from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he was executive vice president and provost. O’Brien was able to meet Travis following the ceremonies and presented her with the Bronze Star he had earned in Vietnam.
“That bronze medal that I received needed to get to the right person,” said O’Brien. “Brenda Travis was the right person to receive that medal for all that she went through in Mississippi.”
The Carson-Newman president said the meeting was a memorable one. “Some people are asked to fight for their country, but no one should ever be asked to fight her country,” he said. “And that is exactly what she had to do.”
In 2012, O’Brien invited Travis to Carson-Newman’s campus to speak as part of programs surrounding the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday. The two remain close friends.