Benton – Organizations

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.

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 years, but they stopped publishing the newsletter after four successful years.

From an excerpt on the Mississippi Freedom School Curriculum website, it captures the words of a student which was written in the Benton County Freedom Train. “We work eight to nine hours each day and are paid daily after work is over. We get only $3.00 per day . . . and . . . chop cotton 81/2 hours to 9 hours each day. . . . The man whom we worked for is responsible for having fresh cold water handy in the field for the workers to drink. The whites also fail to take us to the store in time to eat dinner. . . . When it’s harvest Negroes pick cotton by hand at $2.00 for a hundred pounds and some places $3.00 per hundred.”In the Mt. Zion Freedom School’s “Freedom Press,”a girl states she comes to the Freedom School because “I want to become a part of history also.”

Sources:

http://www.educationanddemocracy.org/FSCfiles/A_03_Index.htm

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 decided to join in with others at the Freedom School. The numbers began to improve dramatically. In the fall, a college prep class was formed and met regularly at the home of Howard and Annie Evans.

In the Mt. Zion Freedom School’s “Freedom Press,”a girl states she comes to the Freedom School because “I want to become a part of history also.”

Sources:

Mississippi Freedom School Curriculum Website, http://www.educationanddemocracy.org/ED_FSC.html

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 took pride in the improvements COFO made to the county and the school system.

Sources:

My Mind Stayed on Freedom, a film by Aviva Futorian

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 for years, but members stopped publishing the newsletter after four successful years.

From an excerpt on the Mississippi Freedom School Curriculum website, it captures the words of a student written in the Benton County Freedom Train. “We work eight to nine hours each day and are paid daily after work is over. We get only $3.00 per day . . . and . . . chop cotton eight and a half to nine hours each day. The man whom we worked for is responsible for having fresh cold water handy in the field for the workers to drink. The whites also fail to take us to the store in time to eat dinner: When it’s harvest Negroes pick cotton by hand at $2.00 for a hundred pounds and some places $3.00 per hundred.”

Sources:

http://www.educationanddemocracy.org/FSCfiles/A_03_Index.htm