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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]