Deposition of Mrs. Elizabeth Allen
Amite County, Mississippi, 1965

[On January 4, 1965, the Mississppi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) challenged the seating of the five white Congressmen who had been elected the previous November. Based on Mississippi's history of denying Black voting rights and the systematic exclusion of Blacks from the political process, they asked the House of Representatives to declare the election fraudulent and set aside the results. Under the rules governing election challenges in the House, the MFDP was granted 40 days to collect evidence to support their case. The edited transcript below is one example of the 600 depositions and affidavits that were collected and submitted to Congress during that period. See MFDP Congressional Challenge for more information.]

Deposition taken by MFDP attorney Warren B. Wilson.

Q. Are you a widow?

A. A widow?

Q. Yes. Who was your husband?

A. Mr. Louis Allen ...

Q. Where is your husband now?

A. He's dead ...

Q. Can you tell us how he died?

A. He was killed by a shotgun.

[See Louis Allen Murdered for more information.]

Q. Where did this take place, at the house?

A. It took place right aside of his gap (gate) ...

Q. Did you hear anything unusual tbat night?

A. I heard three shots.

Q. And when you heard the s hots , did you do anything about it at the time?

A. I didn't do anything about it , because at that time they was so bad about burning crosses up there and his truck lights was still on and I didn't know whether they were burning crosses out there in front of my gap or what.

Q. You mean the lights of your husband's truck were burning?

A. That's right, the night of my husband's death.

Q. When the lights were burning, where was the truck?

A. The truck was just outside the gap. He got out to let the gap down and someone shot him ...

Q. Just inside the gate to your house?

A. Just inside it. He kept it closed on account he had cattle inside. When he got out of his truck, someone shot his four fingers off, and after they shot his finger s off, he run under the truck for protection, and then someone put the gun aside of the truck and shot him through the head ...

Q. Prior to your husband's death, January 31, 1964, had he been a member of the NAACP in a chapter operating in Amite County?

A. He had ...

Q. And as part of the program of the NAACP, did they deal with voter registration?

A. They did.

Q. And what was your husband's attitude toward voter registration?

A. Well, he went to the courthouse twice to vote and they told him the first time that he wasn't eligible to vote ...

Q. Did they give a reason for his ineligibility?

A. They didn't give a reason, because they don't allow Negroes to vote in Amite County ...

Q. What types of things, if any, were done to discourge Negroes from voting in Amite County?

A. Well, I guess they didn't want Negroes to have the legal rights or anything, so they don't allow them to vote. That's the way it is.

Q. You said your husband went and tried to vote a second time. Did he?

A. That's right. And the second time he went to vote, it was some shooting going on and he didn't go back to vote any more after that ...

Q. Did (your husband) write his own checks and balance his own checkbooks?

A. Thae's right.

Q. Then presumably he could read and write.

A. He could read and write.

Q. How much education did he have?

A. He went to the 7th grade, but after he went to the army he took up some more schooling. And that made him be further up than the 7th grade.

Q. Did he do his banking in Amite County, in Liberty?

A. That's right.

Q. And was he able to borrow money there?

A. Well, for while he was, but after tbey started picking on him and he started running his own logging business, wouldn't no one lend him any money and they cut out his credit also.

Q. Was your husband in fear of his llfe at the time when he was killed?

A. He really was.

Q. And can you tell me why he was in fear of his life at the time he was killed?

A. Because the white people was picking at him so.

Q. Had he been a witness to any other murder? ...

A. He was a witness at Mr. Herbert Lee's death.

[See Herbert Lee Murdered for more information.]

Q. And how had Mr. Herbert Lee died?

A. He was killed by Mr. E.H. Hurst from a shotgun blast.

Q. And who is Mr. E.H. Hurst?

A. He was a state senator ... They didn't start threatening until after Mr. Herbert Lee's death ...

Q. Were you ever present when your husband was arrested by Sheriff Jones?

A. I was. I was present when Sheriff Jones broke his jawbone, because he broke it on his place and naturally I was at home ...

Q. He came out to your house a fter you and your husband had gone to see someone in jail?

A. That's right ... They said Louis was messing with office affairs, because he was on the (jail) grounds.

Q. Was he being arrested at that time by Sheriff Jones?

A. That's right. That's the time Sheriff Jones broke his jawbone.

Q. And why did he break his jawbone?

A. Because he didn't have his hat and he asked Sheriff Jones could he go in the house and get his hat and he said, "No, not you Louis!" Well, he turned around and his son was standing in the door and he asked him, say, "Well, can I tell my son to bring my hat?" When he turned around to tell his son to bring his hat, the sheriff hit him with a flashlight and broke his jawbone ...

Q. Did your husband testify at any hearing or inquest about the death of Herbert Lee?

A. He testified twice about Mr. Herbert Lee's death ... He testified that Mr. Lee did have a piece of iron when Mr. Hurst killed him ... because he wanted to live for his family ...

Q. You mean he was afraid and this is the reason he testified this way?

A. That's right. He was afraid. He was afraid they would kill him if he didn't say that Mr. Lee had piece of iron because a Negro don't have no say-so.

Q. Did he tell you what actually happened?

A. He said he was standing next to Mr. Lee and he had two or three words and Mr. Hurst killed him.

Q. DId Herbert Lee actualiy have a piece of iron in his hand?

A. He didn't.

Q. Did your husband tell anyone else that Mr. Herbert Lee really didn't have an iron in his hand?

A. He told the FBI in Jackson ... Because he said he really wanted to live for his family, but the reason be told the FBI that Mr. Herbert Lee didn't have an iron, if he knew of a live person he told a story on, he could ask to be forgiven, but if it was a dead person, he couldn't ask, so his conscience was clipping him ...

Q. When was it (Mr. Allen ) went to vote in the company of Leo McKnight?

A. Both times he went to vote they was together.

Q. And is Mr. Leo McKnight still living?

A. Mr. Leo McKnight is dead.

Q. What happened to Mr. McKnight?

A. He got burned up.

Q. Where did he get burned up?

A. He got burned up in his own house ...

Q. How many people were killed or died in the fire at Leo McKnight's home?

A. It was four of them ...

Q. Did Sheriff jones know that your husband had talked to the FBI about the death of Herbert Lee?

A. He must have knowed it because he told my oldest son before they moved the body that if Louis hadn't told the FBI that Mr. Herbert Lee didn't have a piece of iron, be wouldn't have been laying on the ground tonight ...

Q. Had your husband made plans to leave Amite County before he died?

A. Yes, he was going to leave the next day for Milwaukee. He had already packed his suitcase.

Q. Had he told anyone about his plan to leave?

A. Yes, he had told different ones about his plan to leave ...

Q. And why was he intending to flee from Amite County?

A. Because they were threatening him.

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