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Johnston, Earl

Earl Johnston lived most of his life in Forest, MS, and became the editor of the Scott County Times newspaper, leaving his job at the Clarion Ledger. He became involved in politics and eventually became Ross Barnett’s campaign manager for his gubernatorial campaign. He served as the public relations director for the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, where he worked to promote a more positive image of segregation in Mississippi. Eventually, he became the general director of the commission and attempted to lead it in a more moderate direction – promoting cooperating with black leaders and attempting to build up black-only facilities to make good the claim of “separate but equal”. He frequently negotiated directly with Medgar Evers and was able to successfully thwart a boycott lead by Evers against black-only schools. In 1981, he returned to politics as the mayor of Forest, MS.

Sources:
Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive

Negro Masonic Lodge

This all-black Masonic Lodge in Forest, MS, was accused by the Sovereignty Commission of being a hub of NAACP activity. Historically, the Freemasons at large did not recognize black Masonic Lodges.

Sources:
Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, Mississippi Department of Archives & History

Concord Baptist Church

The Concord Baptist Church in Forest, MS was reported by the Sovereignty Commission as being a hub of NAACP activity in the area. In 1963 the church was divided between those who followed Reverend J.F. Moore and those who followed Reverend John Davis. The latter and his followers were accused of being affiliated with the NAACP.

Sources:
Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, Mississippi Department of Archives & History

Cross Burning

On May 5, 1965, two crosses were burnt on the property of Forest Industries Company and at the home of the manager of the company. The Forest Industries Company had hired two black men in place of two white men they had fired. Evidence was discovered that linked an employee dismissed from the company for insubordination to the burning.

Sources:
Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, Mississippi Department of Archives & History