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American Road Trip part five: Mississippi history

09:00 AEST Thu Nov 18 2010

Video: continued

Clare, James, Katie and Matt are still in their RV travelling through the southern states of America. Their journey took them to Philadelphia, Mississippi, a town with a blot in its history.

Missed the first four parts of the American Road Trip? Catch up on the road trippers' recent adventures in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nashville and the Deep South:

Philadelphia, Mississippi

In 1964 three African-American Civil Rights workers were beaten to death. The murders of James Chaney, a 21-year-old African-American man from Mississippi, and white Jewish New Yorkers Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner, 24, highlighted the risks to civil rights advocates in the South during the "Freedom Summer".

They were investigating the burning of Mt Zion United Methodist Church, a meeting place for civil rights groups. The county deputy, a member of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, arrested Chaney for alleged speeding, and booked the others "for investigation".

They were denied telephone calls and when released were handed over to fellow Klansmen. They were then beaten to death but several Klansmen who were arrested were found not guilty. The jury was made up by relatives, friends and sympathisers.

The events were dramatised in the films Mississippi Burning and Murder in Mississippi. Civil rights activists were angered by both as they felt the portrayal of FBI agents was sympathetic and that the bureau was given too much credit for solving the case.

The three young men whose lives were taken are remembered in many ways and the Heart of the African-American Community tour shows how things were in 1964. It takes in the murder site, which has been renamed in honour of the three men. Mt Nebo Missionary Baptist Church is where freedom schools were allowed to be held. There is a monument to the three civil rights workers outside as well.

Mt Zion United Methodist Church, the reason the men went to Philadelphia, was built in 1893. It was rebuilt in 1965 after it was burned down and restored again in 1971 after another fire. The church was regularly used by civil rights workers and there is a historical marker and monument honouring their work.

Also on the tour is Neshoba County Jail where the activists were held, the former site of Lillie Jones' house, another activist, and the former site of the Council of Federated Organizations office, their organisation.

The tour ends with a look at how the town has changed. There's a park extension to the community centre that represents the level of cooperation and coming together of black and white citizens.

Our travellers' tour guide, Leroy Clemons, believes he lives in the new Mississippi where a combination of the murderous past and nation's largest percentage of black residents have pushed race relations ahead of the rest of the nation. He said Philadelphia is being used as a model of racial reconciliation.

Burnside Lake Water Park

When it comes time to park the RV after an emotional tour of days gone by, Burnside Lake Water Park has 47 hectares of grounds with 22 campsites. There's water and electricity, boat ramps, oxbow lake, fishing pier, three open-air pavilions, three lighted baseball fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, nature trail and a suspension bridge. Many visitors go there just to fish in the Pearl River.


For around 300 years Natchez has been a destination full of Southern charm and grace. On the banks of the Mississippi River, its magnificent antebellum homes give it a romantic atmosphere.

There are bus tours through the streets of Natchez, but a wonderful thing to do is take a 40-minute horse and carriage ride. It's relaxing and fun and takes in six glorious homes from the 1700s and 1800s, as well as a couple of churches. The houses have wonderful names such as Magnolia Hall, Dr Dubs Townhouse, Holly Hedges and Myrtle Terrace.

Frogmore Plantation is 730 hectares of working cotton plantation. It thrived in the 1850s and today you can see how slaves lived. You can walk through their quarters, hear about their customs, secret music and illicit relationships with slave owners.

There's a rare 1884 Smithsonian-quality steam cotton gin machine used for separating cotton fibres from seeds. Locals dress in period costume and slave quarters and cabins are authentically furnished. Visitors are invited to pick cotton between July and April.

Related gallery: American road trip part four: Elvis' Deep South

Related gallery: American road trip part three: Nashville and Kentucky

Related gallery: American road trip part two: Indiana and Kentucky

Related gallery: American Road Trip part one: Chicago


Philadelphia, Mississippi.


Apollo Sunrise Escape five-berth RV rental is $990 for 12 days. The offer is valid for travel from Los Angeles and return, San Francisco and return and Las Vegas and return.

V Australia has flights to Los Angeles from:

  • Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane $1239
  • Adelaide $1539
  • Perth $1839

On sale until November 30, 2010, for travel between February 1 and March 31, 2011.

Prices correct at November 18, 2010.

For further information

V Australia

Ph: 1800 777 779

Leroy Clemons
Philadelphia Tourism
Ph: +1 601 562 9240

Burnside Lake Water Park
Highway 15
Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350
United States
Ph: +1 601 656 4101

Natchez Tourism

Apollo has a pre-Christmas Santa special in Australia and New Zealand, which is limited to 25 vehicles during the time the US road trip episodes are broadcast. Book online at or call 1800 777 779. The booking code (APUSGETS) must be used to receive the special rates. Valid for travel until March 31, 2011.

Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at

Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.

Time zone: Mississippi is GMT -6.

Currency: The American dollar.

International dialling code: +1.

If you are planning a trip to the US we've found a great book with lots of useful information: America Over Easy! The book covers national parks, camping, shopping and gives timesaving tips, great places to eat, how to make significant savings and where to find free attractions. It has an excellent fold-out map for road trips. It's been put together by American-born Australian resident Mark Sheehan who has 25 years' travel experience. It's published by New Holland and available at book stores ($19.95). For more information, visit

User comments
Getaway bosses can you please do another one of these next year? I am so keen to go on a road trip now through the states! Or even Oz would be good to show viewers their own country that their living in? Please make sure there's another hot chick on the next one as well =P Thanks!
Oh wow, I hadn't realised how pale Clare was. She has such beautiful skin! Lucky. I liked her red dress, anyone know where it's from?

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