Arkansas Delta Truth and Justice Center
Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs
REV. GEORGE LEE, one of the first black people registered
to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge
others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he
end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.
LAMAR SMITH was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a
white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was
never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black
man. Smith had organized blacks to vote in a recent election.
EMMETT LOUIS TILL, a 14-year-old boy on vacation from Chicago, reportedly flirted with a white woman in a store. A few nights later, two men took
Till from his bed, beat him, shot him, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. An all-white jury found the men innocent of murder.
J.E. Evanston was a teacher in the local elementary
school. His body was fished out of Long Lake on Christmas Eve.
JESSIE (OLLIE) SHELBY,23, was fatally wounded by a police
officer who alleged that he shot and killed Shelby because he resisted
CLINTON MELTON was killed by Elmer Otis Kimbrell.
Kimbrell claimed Melton fired at him three times before he returned fire with
a shotgun. No gun was found in Melton's car or on his body. The white
employer of Melton testified that Melton did not have a gun. Kimbrell was
cleared in Melton's death. Kimbrell was a close friend of one of the
murderers of Emmett Till.
CHARLES BROWNA white man shot Brown, who was visiting
the suspects sister. The Justice Department handed the case over to the
GEORGE LOVE was killed in a gun battle with police
who believed he was responsible for a murder and arson. He was later cleared
of any connection to the murder.
ED SMITH was shot in his yard in front of his wife. L.D. Clark, the white man who shot Smith, later reportedly bragged about the killing. APRIL 27, 1958 State Line, Miss.
WOODROW WILSON DANIELS was beaten to death in jail. Four
witnesses identified Sheriff Buster Treloar as the man who beat Daniels. An
all-white jury freed the sheriff in 23 minutes. The sheriff said after the
trial, "Now I can get back to rounding up bootleggers and damn
C. H. PICKETT was killed by an 80-year old white farmer
with a prison record for manslaughter. The white farmer claimed Pickett was
giving his sister too much attention.
MACK CHARLES PARKER, 23, was accused of raping a
white woman. Three days before his case was set for trial, a masked mob took
him from his jail cell, beat him, shot him, and threw him in the Pearl River. The community generally approved of the lynching, and the men were never
SAM OQUINN, was
ambushed and killed. Mr. O'Quinn was derided by some local whites for being
uppity. He was shot after joining the NAACP.
BOOKER T. MIXON was found lying on the side of road,
completely nude. Police claimed it was hit-and-run, though family members
cited his naked body and the extensive amount of flesh torn from his body as
LUTHER JACKSON was killed by then Philadelphia, Mississippi policeman Lawrence Rainey. Rainey would later become Neshoba County Sheriff and be tried on federal charges of conspiracy to deny civil rights in the 1964 murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. Rainey shot Luther Jackson after he and his girlfriend were founding talking in their car, which was stalled in a ditch. The police claimed Jackson attacked them. OCTOBER 30, 1959 Philadelphia, Miss.
WILLIAM ROY PRATHER, 15, was killed in an anti-black
Halloween prank. One of eight youth involved was indicted on manslaughter
HERBERT LEE, who worked with civil rights leader Bob
Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator E. H.
Hurst who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black
man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.
CPL. ROMAN DUCKSWORTH JR., a military police officer stationed in Maryland, was on leave to visit his sick wife when he was ordered off a bus by a police
officer and shot dead. The police officer may have mistaken Ducksworth for a "freedom rider" who was
testing bus desegregation laws.
PAUL GUIHARD, a reporter for a French news service,
was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of
James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.
SYLVESTER MAXWELL castrated and mutilated body was found by
his brother-in-law less than 500 yards from the home of a white family.
MEDGAR EVERS, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi, was leading a campaign for integration in Jackson when he was shot and killed
by a sniper at his home.
LOUIS ALLEN, who witnessed the murder of civil rights activist
Herbert Lee, endured years of threats, jailings and
harassment. He was making final arrangements to move North on the day he was
CLIFTON WALKER was killed by a shotgun blast at close
range. The result of a federal investigation is unknown.
SILAS (ERNEST) CASTON-Caston was shot by a local police
officer. CORE and NAACP filed a civil suit against Deputy Sheriff Herbert
Sullivan. The result of that suit is unknown.
HENRY HEZEKIAH DEE and CHARLES EDDIE
killed by Klansmen who believed the two were part of a plot to arm blacks in
the area. (There was no such plot.) Their bodies were found during a massive
search for the missing civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. In 2007, one man, James Ford Seale was
convicted of federal charges in the deaths of Henry Dee and Charles Moore.
Many others, in addition to Ford, were complicit in the murders.
JAMES EARL CHANEY, ANDREW GOODMAN, and
MICHAEL HENRY SCHWERNER,
young civil rights workers, were arrested by a
deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted
their murders. They were shot, and their bodies were buried in an earthen
dam. Eight white men were convicted on federal charges of conspiracy to deny
civil rights in 1967. In 2005, Edgar Ray "Preacher" Killen was
convicted on state manslaughter charges. Eight others who were arrested on
federal charges in the 1960s are still living and have never been charged by
the state of Mississippi.
ISAIAH TAYLOR was shot by a police officer after allegedly lunging at him with a knife. The shooting was ruled a justifiable homicide. JUNE 26, 1964 Ruleville, Miss.
JASPER GREENWOOD was found shot to death near his car on a
rural road. Police said the slaying was not racially motivated.
WAYNE YANCY, a civil rights worker, died after being denied admission to white hospital. AUGUST 1, 1964 Holly Springs, Miss.
NEIMIAH MONTGOMERY, 60, was shot by police after allegedly
refusing to pay for gas. Police were acquitted, and the shooting was called
HUBERT ORSBY, 14, was found in the Black River near
Highway 51 in Canton. He was wearing a t-shirt with "CORE," written
on it, representing the Congress of Racial Equality.
PHELD EVANS was identified by the Mississippi NAACP as
having been killed under mysterious circumstances.
ERNEST JELLS was accused of stealing a banana from a
grocery and pointing a rifle at pursuing police officers. The officers were
JESSIE BROWN - The 1965 NAACP annual report claimed
white farmer R.M. Gibson killed Brown.
SALEAM TRIGGS The body of Ms. Triggs was found
mysteriously burned to death.
WILLIE HENRY LEE was found beaten on a country road. He
was known to have attended civil rights meetings. An autopsy revealed he died
by strangulation from gas.
DONALD RASBERRY was shot to death by his plantation
JOHN LEE Mr. Lee's body was found beaten on a
JOHN QUEEN A white off-duty constable was named in
the pistol slaying of John Queen. The shooting was not connected to any
FREDDIE LEE THOMAS Federal investigators looked into the
death of Freddie Lee Thomas who was 16. Thomas' brother believed he was
murdered as a warning against black voter registration. The result of the
investigation is unknown.
JIMMIE LEE GRIFFIN Mr. Griffin was killed in a hit-and-run
accident. A coroner's report revealed Mr. Griffin was run over at least
ROBERT McNAIR Mr. McNair was killed by a town
VERNON FERDINAND DAHMER, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay
poll taxes for those who couldnt afford the fee required to vote. The night
after a radio station broadcasted Dahmers offer,
his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from
BIRDIA KEGLAR and ADLENA HAMLETT, two civil rights activists, deaths were
officially cited as resulting from an "auto accident." No
investigative reports exist. Ms. Keglar was found decapitated and Ms.
Hamletts' arms had been "cleanly" severed.
BEN CHESTER WHITE, who had worked most of his life as a
caretaker on a plantation, had no involvement in civil rights work. He was
murdered by Klansmen who thought they could divert attention from a civil
rights march by killing a black person.
EDDIE JAMES STEWART was reportedly beaten and shot while in
police custody. Police claimed that he was shot while trying to escape.
VINCENT DAHMON, 65, was shot in the head around the
time of a march in support of James Meredith.
WHARLEST JACKSON, the treasurer of his local NAACP
chapter, was one of many blacks who received threatening Klan notices at his
job. After Jackson was promoted to a position previously reserved for whites,
a bomb was planted in his car. It exploded minutes after he left work one
day, killing him instantly.
BENJAMIN BROWN, a former civil rights organizer, was
watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by gunshots
from police who fired into the crowd.
On May 14 and 15, 1970 students at Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi, protested discrimination and the historical racial intimidation and harassment by white motorists traveling Lynch Street, a major thoroughfare that divided the campus and linked west Jackson to downtown. The students were also protesting against the Vietnam War and the May 4, 1970 tragedy at Kent State University in Ohio. Jackson city police and Mississippi State troopers had ordered the demonstration, taking place in front of a women's dorm, to disperse. When students started to scatter and run into the dorm, the police opened up a barrage of fire lasting 28 seconds. They fired thirty-five shotguns, five military carbines and anything else they could get their hands on. Two students were killed and twelve wounded.
a twenty year old junior, and James
Earl Green, a Jackson High school student were slain.
THOMAS, the father of 11
children and a long time fighter for civil rights, was shot down by Seth
Stanley, a white man, in the parking lot of Southern Grocery on Highway 50 on
a Saturday afternoon. A few months later Stanley was acquitted by an all-white