Grenada – Places

Highway 51

Meredith Mississippi March Against Fear came through Grenada via Highway 51 on June 15, 1966. A voter rally was held afterward in the town square. That night, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech. About 1,300 people were registered to vote after the rally, but it is estimated that 700 of those people would not be allowed to vote because county officials did not tell them that voters also had to register at City Hall. Shortly after the march, the Grenada County Freedom Movement (GCFM) was created and it affiliated with the SCLC.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/info/grenada.htm

http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-neely_jasper.shtml

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

Movie Theatre

On June 23, a group of students was arrested after they attempted to buy tickets for the white section of the movie theater. These arrests led to the “open city campaign”during which civil rights workers and citizens tried to integrate everything in town. Teams went to restaurants, motels, and other businesses. Civil rights suits were filed under the Civil Rights Act against non-complying establishments. A few weeks later, the GCFM presented demands to Grenada for desegregation, better voter registration, and equal employment. A boycott of white businesses began until the demands were met.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/info/grenada.htm

http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-neely_jasper.shtml

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

Courthouse

As part of the open city campaign, protest marches were conducted, ending at the town square. During the first march on July 9th, forty-three people were arrested in violation of a parade ordinance. The parade ordinance was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge and the marches began again on July 14th. For the next three months, there were mass meetings at Bellflower Baptist Church and then a march to the square with a rally at the courthouse or on the green. On many nights, white protesters would march as well, issuing threats.

One participant of the marches, Gloria Williams-Lott, remembers that whites would call black houses, asking if they were going to march that night, trying to scare and intimidate them from showing up. Lott’s mother was fired from her job in a private white home for her participation in the marches, as were many other participants.

About half of the marchers usually consisted of students. Most of the others were women and children, with a handful of men and SCLC workers.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/info/grenada.htm

http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-neely_jasper.shtml

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

Bellflower Baptist Church

Headquarters for the movement where many of the rallies were held. It is the third oldest black Baptist Church in Mississippi. Every night, mass meetings would occur here. They taught classes and showed films at the church. Lott said that entertainers such as Joan Baez came to perform and support the movement. This is also where Dr. King gave speeches on June 15 and September 19. Located at the corner of Water and Pearl Street.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/info/grenada.htm

http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-neely_jasper.shtml

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

Chat and Chew Cafe

Federal voter registrars opened an office here to register black voters. Voter rallies were held outside of the cafe. During the first one, police attacked the crowd with tear gas and clubs. The building is still on Union Street, but it is now a different cafe.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/info/grenada.htm

http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/transcripts/manuscript-neely_jasper.shtml

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