Holmes – Persons

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

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

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

Russell, Rev. J.J. and Russell, Erma

Reverend J.J. and Mrs. Erma Russell were considered to be at the forefront of the movement in Holmes County. They were two of the first fourteen to attempt to register to vote at the Courthouse in Mileston. They held meetings in their home with the Mitchells, Carnegies, and the Turnbows. Reverend Russell was the only preacher that would step forward and lead the movement. He paid the price for it by having one church burned and the other vandalized. People began to refuse to allow him to preach in their church due to the fear of their churches being vandalized. So he preached in his home until other communities opened up to movement activity.

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

Johnson, Bernice Montgomery

Mrs. Bernice Montgomery Johnson was called the teacher of the movement. She was the only schoolteacher from Holmes County who was involved with the movement. She started out by opening her home to civil rights workers. She encouraged people to register to vote, and held meetings 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