On Feb. 28, 1963, I attended a voter registration meeting in the office of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Greenwood, Mississippi. At about 8 :30 I noticed a white 1962 Buick circling the block. I checked further and discovered that there were no license plates on the car. At 10:15 that night, the car was still around the office and I notified the rest of the office people that it was still there and to be careful.
At about 10:30 that night, Robert Moses, Randolph Blackwell, and myself left the meeting to go to Greenville, Mississippi. The three of us first stopped at a gas station where we filledup the gas tank and got something to eat.
We then drove onto Highway 82 going to Greenville. As we were going onto the highway, we noticed the same white 1962 Buick that had been driving around the office coming off the highway. There were three white men in the car. As soon as they saw us, they turned around and pulled onto the highway behind us. I beB- lieve they were able to recognize us because our car had been parked in front of the SNCC office during the time they had been driving around it.
When I noticed their car following us on Highway 82, I slowed down to 35 m.p.h., the minimum speed limit on that 60 m.p.h. highway. I slowed down in order to let their car pass and also, if possible, to avoid being run off the road by them. When I slowed down, they also slowed down and remained behind us. They followed us for about seven miles, during all of which time there were many other cars on the road. At this point, there were no other cars in sight. They speeded up and pulled even with us. When they were right beside us, one of the men in the car opened fire with a submachine gun. He fired for about three or four seconds and then the car sped away.
I felt something hit me in the neck. I said, "I'm hit." Bob Moses, who was sitting beside me, grabbed the wheel from me and I then slumped in his lap. Bob was able to stop the car safely. I was then taken and laid in the back seat. Randolph got into the back seat with me. Bob then drove to Itta Bena, which was the closest town. We knew that there was an infirmary at Mississippi Vocational College which was located there.
When we got there, there was no doctor present and we called to Greenwood to have one sent up. When he got there he took one look at me and told them to rush me to the hospital in Greenwood. I had been shot once in the neck and once in the shoulder. When our car was later examined, eleven to thirteen bullet holes were found in it.
I was then rushed to a Greenwood hospital where I stayed overnight, and then to Jackson, where the bullet that was still in me (a .45 caliber bullet) was removed from my neck. I stayed in the hospital two more days before I was released.
At the time I was shot, I was twenty years old and a field secretary for SNCC. Bob Moses was also a SNCC field secretary and Randolph Blackwell was the field director of the Voter Education Project being run by the Southern Regional Conference, All three of us are Negro.
SIGNED: James Travis
See Marching For Freedom
in Greenwood for background & more information.
See also Mississippi Freedom Movements for web links.
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