As part of the open city campaign, protest marches were conducted, ending at the town square. During the first march on July 9th, forty-three people were arrested in violation of a parade ordinance. The parade ordinance was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge and the marches began again on July 14th. For the next three months, there were mass meetings at Bellflower Baptist Church and then a march to the square with a rally at the courthouse or on the green. On many nights, white protesters would march as well, issuing threats.

One participant of the marches, Gloria Williams-Lott, remembers that whites would call black houses, asking if they were going to march that night, trying to scare and intimidate them from showing up. Lott’s mother was fired from her job in a private white home for her participation in the marches, as were many other participants.

About half of the marchers usually consisted of students. Most of the others were women and children, with a handful of men and SCLC workers.


Dittmer, John. Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Urbana, Ill. University of Illinois Press, 1994.