When I arrived in Hattiesburg’s shabby bus station on July 4th, 1964, the sight of the city’s quiet business district of mid-sized office buildings and shops brought to mind the cliché “sleepy southern town.” It was a mistaken impression, for as civil rights historian Neill McMillen later observed, if “the good and God-fearing” white people of Hattiesburg would not tolerate incursions by “scruffy flame-throwers from outside,” they were equally rigid in their denial of the rights of citizenship to people with black skin.1 And, as I would learn later, if they disdained the raw brutality of the unreconstructed Delta region, they exercised an exquisite cruelty in denying those rights.
KeywordsBlack Community Voter Registration Congressional District Black Voter Picket Line
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