DeSoto

DeSoto County Data Dashboard

W3.CSS

Bates, Leonard

Leonard Bates was the brother-in-law of Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist and mentor to the nine students who integrated Little Rock High School in 1957.
The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC) files state that Sterling Davis interviewed Daisy Bates around November 24, 1958, when Bates was visiting Leonard Bates and Ollie Bates, Leonard’s sister and Daisy’s sister-in-law, in DeSoto County. While Daisy was there, Leonard’s wife suddenly died and people suspected that she was poisoned. A county official named Sterling Wilson heard that the poison was meant for Daisy. As of July 1959, Daisy had not returned to visit Leonard and the family.

In 1960, the MSSC placed Leonard on a list of “potential agitators.” No further records or information has been found thus far.

Sources:

“Daisy Bates,” Wikipedia, 1 October 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_Bates_(civil_rights_activist).

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 1-7-0-3-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and History, http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd01/000481.png&.

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 1-41-0-1-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and History, http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd01/002950.png&.

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-4-2-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and History, http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041165.png&.

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 3-2-0-2-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and History, http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd02/013966.png&.

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 9-0-0-15-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and History, http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd08/059396.png&.

Highway 51

On June 5, 1966, James Meredith began his “March Against Fear” to protest racism. He began in Memphis, Tennessee, and planned to continue 220 miles to Jackson, Mississippi. At the twenty-sixth mile of the march on Highway 51, just south of Hernando, Aubrey Norvell stood in the roadside brush and fired three times at Meredith. It was later reported that doctors had to remove about seventy shotgun pellets from Meredith’s head, neck, and body. Meredith was rushed to the hospital and about fifteen law officers apprehended Norvell.

While Meredith was unable to complete his march, other civil rights leaders continued in tribute to Meredith. With their arms linked, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, and Stokely Carmichael resumed the walk where Meredith left off on Highway 51 in Hernando. Other marchers, reporters, and Mississippi state troopers were also present that day. Citizens in Desoto County are currently making efforts to erect a marker at the place at which Meredith was shot and these events took place. Read more at the page for Meredith’s March Against Fear

Sources:

John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, University of Illinois Press, 1995.

“March Against Fear,” Wikipedia, 30 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_Against_Fear.

Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006.

Bates, Ollie S.

Ollie S. Bates was the sister-in-law of Daisy Bates, a civil rights activist and mentor to the nine students who integrated Little Rock High School. According to the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (MSSC), Ollie Bates and an African American man named Anthony Washington were suspected of being involved in rising African-American “unrest and agitation” in October of 1958. The MSSC spoke with Superintendent of Education Rutherford and he said that the problems were “being pushed by two white men whom he thinks are on some foreign payroll to do such work.” Rutherford believed the two white men were Homer Oswalt of Hernando and Alton M. West of Lake Cormorant, based on his observations of their financial statuses and habits. Supposedly, the two white men approached Bates and Washington about school integration and perhaps participating in other activities. There is no follow-up information on the report. 

The MSSC files state that Sterling Davis interviewed Daisy Bates around November 24, 1958, when Bates was visiting Ollie Bates and Leonard Bates, Ollie’s brother and Daisy’s brother-in-law, in DeSoto County. While Daisy was there, Leonard’s wife suddenly died and people suspected that she was poisoned. A county official named Sterling Wilson heard that the poison was meant for Daisy. As of July 1959, Daisy had not returned to visit Ollie and the family. 

In 1960, the MSSC placed Ollie on a list of “potential agitators.” No further records or information has been found thus far. 

  

Sources:

“Daisy Bates,” Wikipedia, 1 October 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisy_Bates_(civil_rights_activist)

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 1-7-0-3-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd01/000481.png&otherstuff=1|7|0|3|1|1|1|472|#

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 1-41-0-1-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd01/002950.png&otherstuff=1|41|0|1|1|1|1|2867|#

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-4-2-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041165.png&otherstuff=2|130|0|4|2|1|1|40554|#

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 3-2-0-2-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd02/013966.png&otherstuff=3|2|0|2|1|1|1|13706|#

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 9-0-0-15-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd08/059396.png&otherstuff=9|0|0|15|1|1|1|58595|

Meredith’s March Against Fear

On June 5, 1966, James Meredith set out to demonstrate that Blacks could exercise freedom without the assistance of the National Guard in what he called the “March Against Fear.” This walk began in Memphis at the Peabody Hotel and was to continue 220 miles to the Mississippi capital in Jackson. Historian Taylor Branch notes that “Meredith wore a yellow pitch helmet, carried an ivory-tipped walking stick, and displayed a white horse’s tail among gifts from a Sudanese chief.” At the twenty-sixth mile of the march, just south of Hernando, Aubrey Norvell stood in the roadside brush and yelled “James Meredith” twice. He raised his 16 gauge automatic shotgun and fired three times at Meredith.It was later reported that doctors had to remove about seventy shotgun pellets from Meredith’s head, neck, and body. Meredith was rushed to the hospital and about fifteen law officers apprehended Norvell, who was an unemployed hardware contractor from Memphis. 

While Meredith was unable to complete his march, other civil rights leaders continued in tribute to Meredith.With their arms linked, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, and Stokely Carmichael resumed the walk where Meredith left off on Highway 51 in Hernando.Several other marchers, reporters and Mississippi state troopers were also present that day.State troopers confronted the marchers and ordered them to get out of the road.Stokely Carmichael attempted to defend the activists against an aggressive state trooper but King kept his arms locked tightly with Carmichael’s to restrain him.Citizens in Desoto County are currently making efforts to erect a marker at the place at which Meredith was shot and these events took place.

The march was completed on June 26, three weeks after Meredith left Memphis.The march which began as a solitary mission by James Meredith swelled to over 15,000 people when it ended in Jackson. Photographs from the March Against Fear are displayed at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN. (National Civil Rights Museum, 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103).

Sources:

John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, University of Illinois Press, 1995.

“March Against Fear,” Wikipedia, 30 May 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_Against_Fear.

Taylor Branch, At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006.

Wilson, Clarence

In August of 1960, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission placed Clarence Wilson on their list of potential agitators. He was a teenager during the 1960s and was involved in Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1964. 

Doug Smith and Clarence Wilson singing 1964 

Caption from the Univeristy of Southern Mississippi Archives: From the Randall (Herbert) Freedom Summer Photographs; Local African-American teenager Doug Smith, Assistant Director and Youth Coordinator of the Hattiesburg project (left), Clarence Wilson (center), and another local African- American teenager sing during Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1964. This photo was probably taken after a performance of Martin Duberman’s play “In White America” by the Free Southern Theater performers. (Source: http://digilib.usm.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/manu/id/5978/rec/1

Sources:

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-4-2-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and History,  http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041165.png&otherstuff=2|130|0|4|2|1|1|40554|.

“Doug Smith and Clarence Wilson Singing; 1964,” Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive, Special Collections, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi, http://digilib.usm.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/manu/id/5978/rec/1

Berry, James H.

In September of 1960, the MSSC sent investigator Tom Scarbrough to visit DeSoto County’s James H. Berry, a sixty-five year old African American who attempted to register to vote a number of times. He lived “about 9 miles from Holly Springs” and owned about eighty acres of land. His wife was fifty-five years old and was about to complete college. Berry stated that “his only interest in voting was for the fact that he had been a tax payer for many years and felt it h[i]s duty to be able to vote for [p]ublic officials who had performed accommodations for him.” He attempted to register on a number of occasions, but did not pass the voting requirements and did not receive threats or intimidation for trying to register. Although Berry said that he did not belong to any subversive organizations and that nobody had pressured or coerced him to vote, Scarbrough did not believe him and believed either his educated wife or another group had encouraged him. Scarbrough also noted that white people described him as a “smart aleck type of Negro” and suggested that Berry be filed as a “possible future agitator.” In March of 1961, Circuit Clerk Richard Davis stated that Berry had not returned to register to vote since Scarbrough visited him, despite the fact that Berry claimed he wanted to continue returning until he passed the voter registration exam. Davis also said that no other African Americans had attempted to register to vote since Berry. 

Sources:

“Sovereignty Commission Online: DeSoto County,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/imagelisting.php?foldercheckbox%5B%5D=491%7C2%7C130%7C%7C0&

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-3-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041160.png&otherstuff=2|130|0|3|1|1|1|40549|#

“Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-3-2-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041161.png&otherstuff=2|130|0|3|2|1|1|40550|

Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-13-1-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041185.png&otherstuff=2|130|0|13|1|1|1|40574|#.

Sovereignty Commission Online: SCR ID # 2-130-0-13-2-1-1,” Mississippi Department of Archives and Historyhttp://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/result.php?image=/data/sov_commission/images/png/cd06/041186.png&otherstuff=2|130|0|13|2|1|1|40575|#