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 preacher that would step forward and lead the movement. He paid the price for it by having one church burned and the other vandalized. People began to refuse to allow him to preach in their church due to the fear of their churches being vandalized. So he preached in his home until other communities opened up to movement activity.
Youth of the Rural Organizing and Cultural Center. Minds Stayed on Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle in the Rural South, an Oral History. Boulder: West View Press, 1991.