Wednesday, October 4, 1961: McComb, Mississippi

From The Associated Press: "A civil rights demonstration on the City Hall steps resulted in the mass arrests of 144 Negro pupils and one white man. The group -- junior high and high school pupils -- was protesting the expulsion from school of four Negroes Wednesday arrested earlier in a chain store sit-in. Police said several white men punched the lone white demonstrator before police rescued him. He was jailed 'for his own protection,' police said. Demonstrators marched with signs through the streets of this southwest Mississippi town and made speeches outside the City Hall. Police say they booked all of them on breach of peace charges. The Congress of Racial Equality at Jackson identified the white man as Bob Zellener, 22, of Atlanta. CORE said he is a field worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Police Chief George Guy said Zellener's assailants left before deputies could arrest them."

For some weeks tensions had been increasing in and around McComb, particularly since September, when Herbert Lee, a black farmer working to register other blacks to vote, was shot and killed by E.H. Hurst, a white state legislator. Hurst claimed he acted in self-defense; a coroner's jury ruled that Lee's death was justifiable homicide.

* Summary of McComb voter registration efforts (from Civil Rights Movement Veterans website): @
* Interviews with key figures in McComb events: (joint project of McComb High School and The Urban School of San Francisco): @
* www.mccomblegacies.org: @
* Excerpt from "Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi" (book by John Dittmer): @
* Excerpt from "I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle" (book by Charles M. Payne): @
* Excerpt from "Many Minds, One Heart: SNCC's Dream for a New America" (book by Wesley C. Hogan): @
* "A Circle of Trust: Remembering SNCC" (book by Cheryl Lynn Greenberg): @
* "Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom" (how events in McComb inspired this civil rights song; from the book "Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs"): @
* Excerpt from "The Wrong Side of Murder Creek: A White Southerner in the Freedom Movement" (book by Bob Zellner and Constance Curry): @
* www.bobzellner.com: @

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