THE CAPITAL AREA 239 the one of the most iconic moments of the civil rights movement when students from Tougaloo College staged a sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter where they met a group of angry whites from a local high school. And it was in Jackson, in his driveway, that Medgar Evers was assassinated just hours after President John F. Kennedy announced his commitment to sweeping federal civil rights legislation. Civil rights activities also sprang up in other parts of the Capital Area. In Madison County, where African Americans made up 70 percent of the total population, George Raymond worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in partnership with local leaders C.O. Chinn and Annie Devine to get African American men and women registered to vote. In 1967, in Copiah County, African American leaders in Hazlehurst organized an economic boycott of white-owned businesses who refused to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Despite the atmosphere of racial tension, the Capital Area made remarkable progress in the area of modern health care. In 1955, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, a four-year medical school and teaching hospital, opened its doors. At 491,498 square feet, the new medical center held one medical unit, one surgical SIMMONS CATFISH During the 1970s, a cotton and soybean farmer from Yazoo City, Harry Simmons, recognized a unique opportunity to join the newly rising Delta catfish farming industry. Using aquifers located more than 100 feet below the soil surface, Simmons transformed his fields into ponds and over the next several years, filled the ponds with catfish and expanded his farmland. In 1982, the Simmons family established the Simmons Farmed Raised Catfish Processing Plant, allowing them to develop their own highly marketable, quality catfish brand that has lasted more than three decades. Today, Simmons remains a family owned and operated business under Harry’s leadership, with his daughter, Katy, using her knowledge and experience as a professional chef to help enhance catfish preparation and promotion. Simmons offers a variety of options from whole catfish to marinated or breaded fillets and nuggets, many of which can be found in restaurants, grocery stores, and markets in various locations throughout the southern United States. PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS