Doris Allison
( — 2004)

As remembered by Hunter Bear

Mrs Doris Allison, life long civil rights activist at Jackson, Mississippi; close friend of many decades; died at her home at Jackson on August 27, 2004. With her husband, Ben, who survives she is Godparent of my grandson/son, Thomas, himself half Mississippi Choctaw of Red Water [Leake and Neshoba] roots.

She lived virtually her entire life in Mississippi and, while I never quite had the courage to ask her precise age, I know she almost reached 90. Consistently devoted to the Movement and its ideals and always to the sterling memory of Medgar Wiley Evers, her mind was as clear as a mountain stream all the way through. When Medgar became in 1954 the first NAACP Field Secretary in Mississippi, she played for him a key supportive role.

In the turbulent beginning of the '60s, as heavy storm clouds gathered over the Magnolia State, she became President of the Jackson Branch of the NAACP. On May 12, 1963, she joined Medgar and myself [Advisor, Jackson Youth Council of NAACP] in signing the "throw down the gauntlet" letter to all of the components of the Mississippi economic and political power structure — which moved our Jackson Boycott Movement into the massive, nonviolent [and very, very bloodily attacked] Jackson Movement which numbered many, many thousands of youth and adult demonstrators. She was one of the first adults arrested during the mass phase of the Jackson Movement and a large photo on the front page of the Jackson Daily News shows Captain J.L. Ray seizing her and her picket sign on downtown Capitol Street, outside the embattled Woolworth store.

Over the many decades, she and Ben faithfully supported every Freedom Movement in Mississippi. And she was also, I should personally add, a generous and wonderful — and legendary — cook.

I recall an interesting colloquy between herself and Medgar as the storm clouds were beginning to break into thunder and lightning in late May, 1963. The state newspapers were screaming constantly about "communism."

"What's all this communism business?" Mrs Allison asked Medgar.

He thought for a moment, then said, "It can mean taking from the rich and giving to the poor."

"Sounds good to me," said she. But, of course, she formally remained — with Ben — a very good Catholic indeed.

With her passing, a beautiful mountain has now lifted 'way high into the Sky and Beyond. Her great courage, and that of Ben, will always be with us.

Hunter Gray/Hunter Bear [John R Salter, Jr]
See my Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism.

Copyright © 2004
(Labor donated)