Unsung Civil Rights Legend dies

Unsung Civil Rights legend dies

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A Civil Rights legend, one of the women who was instrumental in the fight for equal rights in Mississippi, will be buried Wednesday.

Delores Orey died January 8th in Slidell, Louisiana after a lengthy illness.

She worked alongside the major players of the movement but was a quiet force in her own right.

"...A great civil rights activist in the movement; she was one of the silent ones," said Delores Orey's granddaughter Jessica Orey of Jackson.

The 26 year old is preparing to bury her grandmother, one of the many women standing in shadows of men who were in the forefront.

Delores marched beside men like Dr. Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King.

"She passed on to us to never stand down to anything, always stand up for your rights. If you think that it's wrong speak on it, don't be ashamed to voice your opinion," said Jessica Orey.

The Martinsville native was in the Freedom Democratic Party in the 1960's with Fannie Lou Hamer and investigated cases of discrimination, traveling the state with Dr. Henry as an early member of the NAACP.

The activist later served as president of Jackson chapter and dedicated her life to the organization.

"She was actually a part of the demonstrations in the 1960's downtown and she was one of the ones that was arrested, and she was jailed in the fairgrounds, actually where the livestock building is," said Orey.

The wife and mother of eight was on the Sovereignty Commission list, a record of activities of civil rights workers.

Two of her children integrated Poindexter Elementary School.

"She used her home as a Freedom School and to house the Freedom Riders that traveled from the north to the south to do the voter registration drives that they had around the city and around the state," said her granddaughter retracing the era long before her birth.

Efforts paid off in the 1970's when Governor Cliff Finch hired the Jackson State College graduate to work in his administration.

She was later invited to represent Mississippi at President Jimmy Carter's inauguration where she also met Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

In 81 years the woman who worked to give blacks the right to vote and equal footing in Mississippi lived to see America elect a black president, all through lessons in commitment.

Lessons she passed on to her 19 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.

"You just have to fight if you know it's wrong keep forward, keep pushing keep going," added her proud granddaughter.

Funeral services for Delores Orey will be Wednesday January 15th at noon at Mount Nebo Baptist Church located at 1245 Tunica Street Jackson, MS

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