Skates, John R.

John Ray Skates was a noted political and military historian born in Sharkey County in 1934. He served as a professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi and President of the Mississippi Historical Society. His "Mississippi: A Bicentennial History"includes coverage of the civil rights era.


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Panther Burn Plantation

The black church inside Panther Burn Plantation served as a meeting place for many civil rights organizers, including the COFO, in and around Sharkey County. Source: Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, Mississippi Department of Archives & History

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Lillie Willis and Sidney Alexander v. Joe Carson et al.

(1966) In February 1966, Lillie Willis and Sidney Alexander, natives of Sharkey County, filed suit alleging discrimination based on race and gender in the selection of jury members. Specifically, they called into question the explicit exclusion of women from juries written into statute and the ability of county boards of supervisors to appoint jury members based on “good moral character,”systematically ensuring juries were all-white. The U.S. District Court with jurisdiction ruled in favor of the defendant on March 19, 1971.


“Willis v. Carson.”Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute Archives: The Bancroft Library. University of California at Berkeley.

“Lillie Willis and Sidney Alexander, Plaintiffs, v. Joe Carson et al., Defendants.”Accessed through LexisNexis on September 7, 2007.

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Sharkey Underground

Newspaper published in Sharkey County beginning in the 1960s to cover civil rights issues and news.

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