Canton Ordered to Allow Negroes Use or Park

(1960s) “A federal judge Monday ordered officials at Canton, Miss. to permit Negroes the same use of a city park as that extended to white residents of the area.

U.S. District Judge Harold Cox granted a temporary injunction sought by a group of civil rights workers. The order enjoined officials from arresting or otherwise seeking to block Negroes from using the park and its facilities. Cox said the plaintiffs would suffer “immediate and irreparable injuries by being prevented from engaging in activities protected by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution”unless order was issued.

Negroes and whites who filed the suit claimed a group of authorities tried to run them down with a pickup truck when they marched to the park June 17. They marched to the park last Friday after the court action was filed, and 11 were arrested by city police on charges of trespassing. They were trying to use swings and park benches when arrested.

Cox’s injunction named as defendants Canton’s city officials, Sheriff Jack S. Cauthen, the Canton Department of Parks and Recreation, park director Lonus Hucks, and their agents. The order was also directed at “John”(first name not known) Peterson, charged in the suit with leading the intimidation on June 17. He was enjoined from “attempting to or threatening, harassing, intimidating or injuring the Negroes.”

Canton and county officials were prohibited from any action to stop Negroes from using the park “under the same conditions as such facilities are available to white members of the general public.”

Cox specified that the order would expire on July 9 “unless prior to that time it is, for good cause shown, extended by order of this court, or unless the defendants consent to an extension.”

Canton is the county seat of Madison County and is located about 25 miles north of Jackson. The town has a history of racial conflict.”