Holmes

Holmes County Data Dashboard

W3.CSS

Holmes Significant Events Timeline

March 1963- Mileston farmers invited SNCC to begin work in Holmes County.

April 1963- Fourteen Mileston residents attempted to register to vote at the courthouse.

May 1963- Harman Turnbow’s home was shot into and firebombed. He and four others were arrested for arson.

Nov. 1963- Holmes countians join in along with 80,000 black Mississippians to cast ballots in the mock “Freedom Vote.”

June 1964- When Holmes County blacks try to attend a Democratic Party precinct meeting, they are turned away. They elect their own delegates to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party state convention.

Holmes County welcomed 33 volunteers as a part of Freedom Summer. They teach literacy, political organization, voter education, and black history in “freedom schools.”

Aug. 1964- Holmes Countians attended state MFDP convention. Hartman Turnbow was elected as one of the delegates to the national Democratic Convention.

Armed guards are posted at homes and churches after an attempt to blow up a Mileston church.

June 1965- 500 people march in Lexington in support of the MFDP and black voting rights in Holmes County.

July 1965- Head Start opened in Lexington followed by four other Head Start centers in active communities.

Holmes countians joined the freedom march in Jackson. Over 100 are arrested and jailed at the state fairgrounds. Two are beaten badly and charge the police with brutality on national television.

Judge Harold Cox ordered Holmes County schools to desegregate four grades each year.

Sept. 1965- 187 African Americans, the highest number in the state, enrolled in grades 1-4 in formerly all white schools. Soon most white children withdrew from desegregated schools in Lexington. The school board then set up private academies for the white students. Eventually the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the school board for using state funds for the private academies.

March 1966- A lawsuit is filed against Holmes County Community Hospital, citing discrimination and segregated facilities.

June 1966- Black voter registration in Holmes County tops 5,000.

March 1967- A campaign begins in Durant to integrate all restaurants and public facilities.

July 1967- A judge orders the desegregation of all Holmes County schools, and most white students leave for private academies.

Oct. 1967- A lawsuit is filed in federal court against all Holmes County law enforcement agencies for over twenty cases of alleged assault and battery.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm

SNCC of Holmes County

The SNCC was first invited into Holmes County in 1963. They immediately sent organizer John Ball to Mileston. Ball taught twenty Mileston farmers about voter registration. He taught them about the twenty-one question form, the ability to read and write, and about having to interpret any of the 285 sections of the state constitution to the satisfaction of the registrar. In April 1963, SNCC encouraged fourteen local farmers to attempt to register to vote, an act that was potentially dangerous for the group. Hartman Turnbow, one of the fourteen, had his home firebombed the same night. The next morning, the sheriff arrested Turnbow and four other SNCC workers for arson. Without the help of SNCC, and the inspiration of the Fannie Lou Hamer and Martin Luther King Jr. the Holmes County Movement might have never gotten off the ground. The assistance of SNCC was important to the further mobilization of local activists who had long been engaged in the struggle for equal rights.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

Holmes Courthouse

The Holmes County Courthouse was the sight of the first attempt to register to vote in Holmes County by fourteen farmers in April 1963. The farmers were turned down and as a result of their actions one of them had his house firebombed.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm

McLaurin, Griffin

Political organizer who assisted Robert Clark in his run for the State Legislature in Holmes County. Elected Constable of Beat Four in Covington County. He then had to work under Sheriff Calvin Moore, the same man that refused to allow him to register to vote. Moore refused to inform McLaurin of his duties as constable. Instead he had to travel to Jackson and read the Mississippi Code in order to learn how to serve his people.

Sources:

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

Churches of Holmes

Holmes County churches did not play a significant role in the Holmes County Movement at first. On the national level, churches often provided leadership, an organized following, a financial base, communication networks, meeting places, and an ideological framework. However, in Holmes County, ministers and congregations were reluctant to become involved in the movement.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm

Turnbow, Hartman

Hartman Turnbow, along with Amzie Moore, first invited SNCC to send organizers into Mississippi to fight for voting rights. Turnbow was a farmer and fiery orator, and his words and acts inspired many all over Holmes County during the first stages of its civil rights activity. In April 1963, he went to the courthouse to register to vote among a group called the “First 14,”serving as spokesman when confronted by a hostile sheriff. His home was firebombed by nightriders, but he fired back and was arrested for arson of his own home.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party of Holmes

Inspired by Ella Baker and Bob Moses, Holmes County sought to develop an organization owned by local people that could seek long-term, sustained change. The creation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party by COFO in Jackson provided such an organization. The MFDP developed its strongest political entity in Holmes County. The first black person elected to the Mississippi Legislature in 1967 was from Holmes County. People such as Fannie Lou Hamer came to Holmes County as a representative of the MFDP.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm

Carnegie, Alma Mitchell

Alma Mitchell Carnegie was a spirited 66 year-old from Mileston. In 1963, she and her 76 year-old husband Charlie were the oldest of the “First 14″to register to vote. For decades she’d participated in civil rights movement meetings around Mississippi, hiding1930s farm worker organizers and SNCC workers in her home.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm

Mitchell, Ozell

Ozell Mitchell, an independent farmer at Mileston, was 58 in 1962, when he and friend Ben Square drove the 30 miles to Greenwood where SNCC was holding Freedom Meetings. Bravely, they invited the young SNCC organizers to set up a meeting at Mileston. In March 1963 Mitchell and others hid and housed the workers, and got a Mileston church to allow meetings in their building. In April, Mitchell and 13 others drove to the Courthouse to attempt to register to vote.

Sources:

Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.

http://www.crmvet.org/images/imgms.htm