Vernon Dahmer, Sr., (1908-1966) was a businessman and civil rights activist in the Hattiesburg area. He owned several businesses, including a sawmill and store, and he served two terms as president of the NAACP chapter in the local area. Dahmer was very open about his voter register efforts, to the point that he kept a voter registration book in his grocery store and made local announcements over the radio. His most known saying was “If you don’t vote, you don’t count.” In response to his bold civil rights leadership, in January 1966 the Ku Klux Klan firebombed his store and home. Dahmer held off the klan while his family escaped their burning home, and he sustained burns and organ damage that killed him the following day.
Former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan Samuel H. Bowers of Laurel, Miss., was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and arson in 1998.