Metcalf, George and Jackson, Wharlest

George Metcalf and Wharlest Jackson both worked at the Armstrong Tire and Rubber Company and both were active members of the NAACP with Metcalf as president of the local chapter and Jackson as the treasurer. Jim Crow was well established at Armstrong, like many other industrial employers of the day. However, Metcalf and Jackson successfully pressured Armstrong to end the segregated conditions at the plant, and Armstrong soon began handing out promotions regardless of race.

After these diligent efforts, Wharlest Jackson was one of the recipients of the newly introduced conditions: he received a 17cent-an-hour raise. However, on the morning of February 27, 1967, near the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Street and Miner Street, his life was taken when a bomb exploded under the hood of his truck, killing him instantly. No one has ever been charged with his murder though it has been placed on the list of cases to possibly reopen.

George Metcalf, in addition to his work at Armstrong, had also been campaigning to end school segregation and submitted a petition to the school board on August 19, 1967, calling for such. He also included a request not to release the names of those who signed the petition, but the school board, even if it had chosen to honor the request, could not withhold the information from the press. The next day the names of the petitioners were published, and, on August 27, as Metcalf got into his car to head home from work, a bomb ripped his car apart. Miraculously, Metcalf survived despite extensive injuries. No one has ever been charged in his attempted murder.

Rather than intimidate the black community, the attacks on Metcalf and Jackson strengthened the resolve of the community, with attendance at meetings increasing many fold and many pledging armed resistance to further attacks.

Sources:

Dittmer, John. Local People: The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Payne, Charles M. I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.