Panola


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 […]

Cole, David

David Cole was the Superintendent of Panola County. His leadership helped reduce racial conflicts. As superintendent, Cole wanted to push the community “into accepting the new policy of attending school together.” 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).

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 […]

Middleton, Ray

Ray Middleton was a preacher in Batesville who tried to obtain voting rights before the Civil Rights Movement started. 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).

Miles, Robert

Robert Miles provided leadership during the Civil Rights Movement in the city of Batesville. Miles worked with COFO to register black voters. Miles’s leadership came with a huge sacrifice of safety. He received threatening calls, and in 1967 local residents fired shots at his house. As the black community became politically active, Miles was seen […]

Morris, Leonard

Leonard Morris was one of the first black graduates from the University of Mississippi in 1971. He worked in stimulating economic development in Batesville. In 1975 Morris sat on the Panola School Board, working with white members to improve education for all students. He went on to serve in the State Legislature. Sources: Wirt, Frederick […]

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 […]

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).

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).

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 […]

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 […]

White Citizen’s Council of Panola County

In 1955 a local chapter of the White Citizens’ Council was created, but for the most part the group was inactive, not meeting regularly. 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).