City of Jackson Mourns the Death of Civil Rights Activist Shirlene Mercer
JACKSON, Tn.-Shirlene Mercer was a Jackson native who believed in JUSTICE and EQUALITY. Her journey as a civil rights activist began at Lane College. Where she became a part of the “Freshman Four”. A group of African American students that sat in at “white only” lunch counters in protest of segregation. Throughout her life, she made it her duty to make a change. 39 News took a visit to Lane College to speak with those who witnessed her impact.
“Shirley Mercer was concerned about people. She had a passion or heart for justice and for equity. And it just simply rang out and all that she did. As I say, she was an icon because not because she was seeking to be an icon, not because she was seeking recognition, but because she believed in what must be done and because she believed in it.” said Daryll H Coleman, Vice President of Academic Affairs.
“She and three others practically integrated the Jackson bus system at that time by getting on the bus and refusing to get off when they had been commanded to do so. She suffered arrests and she was pretty adamant about what she thought about, which was dignity and equality for all people.” explains Jackson City Councilman, Richard Donnell.
Lane College President Logan Hampton explains that he will tell the story of Shirlene Mercer and her legacy at today's freshman induction event.
“I will share with them the story of Shirley Mercer and the Freshmen five as we know them here on campus and remind them that because these students participated in sit-ins, they led a protest march, they participated in voter registration drives that these students open the doors for students today”.
Shirlene Mercer was a pillar to the Jackson Community and the state of Tennessee. She leaves behind a tremendous legacy that impacted generations. You can find the local park dedicated in her honor at 800 East Chester St. in Jackson Tennessee.