Benton

The Benton County Citizens Club

The Benton County Citizens Club objectives included the betterment of the members of the colored race, particularly from an educational standpoint. This club had been in existence for some time.

Rowland Cemetery

Rowland Cemetery also known as Smith’s Grove is an abandoned cemetery located on Highway 72 and Pottery Road. Within this cemetery lie the bodies of several Civil War heroes such as R. W. Smith and William T. Rowland. R.W., short for Robert William, was a wealthy man from Virginia and owned 67 slaves during the […]

Hicks, Hervey O.

Benton County native, served in the House of Representatives in 1931 and from 1948 to 1976.

1955 Lynchings

After the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, several gentlemen of the Benton County area were lynched in association with Till’s death. Oliver Maxey, the Panam Brothers, John Henry Remmer, and Jones and Hugh Smith were lynched.

Farese, Orene E. and Farese, John

In 1938, Orene E. Farese became a high school English teacher in Ashland, MS, located in Benton County. In 1939, she married John Farese and moved to Benton County. With a forthcoming war, WWII, Gov. Paul Johnson, appointed Farese as the chief clerk of the Benton County Draft Board. In 1948, her husband was elected […]

Citizen’s Club

In addition to the remarkable works of the freedom school, the Citizen’s Club was launched. Their main focus was to help better the lives of the blacks. In regard to reaching others in the community the Citizen’s Club began to publish a newspaper entitled, The Benton County Freedom Train. The Citizen’s Club reign lasted for […]

Church Burnings of Benton County

(1960s) In the summer of 1964, civil rights workers conducted their first meeting at Mt. Zion CME. Meetings took place at several churches in the area, and many churches were later burned or vandalized. Everett Chapel was one of the many churches burned. Vandalism did not stop civil rights activity in the county.

Freedom Schools in Benton County

The first Freedom School of Benton County, founded in late summer 1964, was held at Mt. Zion CME. Students were taught voter literacy, confidence, and political activism in addition to academic subjects including black history. In the beginning, attendance was low. As parents and civil rights workers began to talk to their children, the children […]

Farese, Orene E.

In 1938, Orene E. Farese became a high school English teacher in Ashland, MS, located in Benton County. In 1939, she married John Farese. During World War II, Gov. Paul Johnson appointed Farese as the chief clerk of the Benton County Draft Board. In 1948, her husband was elected to the State Senate. Four years […]

Economic Coercion in Benton County

(1960s) Following the church burnings, many were frightened because they feared for their lives as well as their jobs. It was said that if anyone was found attending meetings or associating with civil rights workers or organizations such as COFO, SNCC, or CORE, they would lose their jobs.

Voter Registration in Benton County

(1960s) Walter Reaves, a citizen of Benton, along with others, urged people to become registered voters during the Civil Rights Movement. Cleanna Tipler, Loyal W. Thompson, Sr., and Henry Reaves were some of the first to register to vote in Benton County. Many followed, though they were often unsuccessful and sometimes intentionally turned away. On […]

COFO of Benton County

In northern Mississippi, there were many offices for the Council of Federated Organizations, or COFO. COFO was an organization made up of all the civil rights and local citizenship groups in Mississippi, working together to improve conditions in Mississippi. Numerous Bentonians were a part of this organization and other organizations that made up COFO. Bentonians […]

Clark, Gloria Xifaras

Gloria Xifaras Clark was a prominent advocate for civil rights in Benton, as well as Marshall, Tippah, and Union counties. She now resides in New Bedford, Massachussetts, but has vivid memories of the civil rights movement. In the early 1960s, she taught in the Benton County Freedom School during Freedom Summer, worked for the Student […]

Futorian, Aviva

Aviva Futorian, originally of New Albany, was a young graduate from Brandeis when she worked in Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964. She worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1964 to 1966, largely with the Benton County Citizens Club. She left Mississippi in 1965 to work for the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago. […]

Benton Citizens’ Club and the Benton County Freedom Train

In addition to the remarkable work of the Freedom School, the Citizens’ Club was launched. Their main focus was to help better the lives of the black community. In regard to reaching others in the community the Citizens’ Club began to publish a newspaper entitled, The Benton County Freedom Train. The Citizens’ Club was active […]

Thompson, Loyal W.

Loyal W. Thompson, Sr. served as Captain and Director Chairman of the Citizen’s Club and member of the local chapter of the NAACP. In the June 1965 issue of Look magazine, Thompson was photographed sitting on his porch holding his rifle, determined to defend his family against the violence that threatened all involved in civil […]