Panola

Panola County Data Dashboard

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COFO of Panola County

Around forty, volunteers came to Panola County to register black citizens to vote and to set up “freedom schools.”The volunteers were a diverse group including law students, nurses, and ministers. Most of the volunteers stayed just for the summer of 1964. That summer the COFO volunteers and black activists faced harassing threats and prosecutions by law enforcement, along with assaults by white citizens.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Voter Registration in Panola

(1961-1966) Panola was the first County in Mississippi to begin Black Suffrage. The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division began field work in 1961 because nearly half the population was black, but no black citizens were registered to vote. By 1966, around 2,000 African-Americans were registered.

On June 11, 1966, 200 to 300 local blacks marched to the Batesville courthouse led by Robert Miles. After the marchers got to the courthouse, over fifty black citizens registered to vote, including a 106 year-old farmer.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Williams, Chris

Chris Williams was a COFO worker who came down to Panola County after graduating from high school in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Desegregation in Panola

(1960-1971) Desegregation began in the late 1960s in Panola County. The initial approach for desegregation was “freedom of choice”. The idea was that parents would choose to send their children to either school, and the intended reaction of continued segregation was the result. But in the school year of 1970-1971 full desegregation began in Panola County. Full desegregation led to the formation of a white private school started by seventy white families. Many whites abandoned the public school system.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Smith, Michael

Michael Smith was a Berkeley law student who came to Panola as a COFO Volunteer.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Voting Registration in Panola County

(1961-1966) Panola was the first county in Mississippi to begin black suffrage. The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division began field work in 1961 because nearly half the population was black but with no black citizens were registered to vote. By 1966, around 2,000 African-Americans were registered.

On June 11, 1966, 200 to 300 local blacks marched to the Batesville Courthouse led by Robert Miles. After the marchers got to the courthouse, over fifty black citizens registered to vote, including a 106 year-old farmer.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Cowan, J. Geoffrey

J. Geoffrey Cowan was a Yale law student who came to Panola as a COFO Volunteer.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

Tranquilli, Martha

Martha Tranquilli was a nurse who came to Panola during Freedom Summer in1964 and ended up staying in Mississippi.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).

School Desegregation in Panola County

(1970) Desegregation began in the late 1960’s in Panola County. The initial approach for desegregation was “freedom of choice”. The idea was that parents would choose to send their children to either school, and the intended reaction of continued segregation was the result. But in the school year of 1970-1971 full desegregation began in Panola County. Full desegregation led to the formation of a white private school started by seventy white families.

Sources:

Wirt, Frederick M. “Politics and Southern Equality.”Chicago: Aldine Publishing (1970).

Wirt, Frederick M. “We Ain’t What We Was.”Durham: Duke University Press (1997).