Author and Mississippi’s youngest Freedom Rider to visit Ouachita Parish Public Library

The Ouachita Parish Public Library is kicking off Black History Month with special guest Hezekiah Watkins, author and Mississippi’s youngest Freedom Rider.

Watkins was only 13 years old when he was first arrested for protesting Mississippi segregation laws during the summer of 1961. Officers transported him to Parchman Prison, where he was detained in a cell on death row. After his release, he joined the Freedom Riders and was arrested more than 100 additional times.

“I am looking forward to welcoming Mr. Watkins here to Ouachita Parish,” said Carver-McDonald Branch Manager Joyce Powell. “He is an inspirational leader, and I know we all can learn a lot from his story.”

His book, co-authored with Andrea Ledwell, tells the complete story of his life and protests. He will discuss, sell, and sign his book Pushing Forward from 2-4 p.m. February 1 at the Carver-McDonald Branch Library at 2941 Renwick Street in Monroe. Like all Ouachita Parish Public Library programs, this event is free to the public.
Watkins continues his activism for justice as a community leader and currently works at the Civil Rights Museum in Jackson.

About the Ouachita Parish Public Library

The mission of the Library is to advance literacy, inspire lifelong learning, and strengthen our community by serving everyone in Ouachita Parish. The Library serves a diverse community of approximately 160,000 people. The Library has 10 branches throughout the parish, plus a bookmobile, outreach services and e-services online at