Fire Destroys Freedom School

(9/17/1964) “A Negro church used recently as a voter registration school was destroyed by fire early today. Authorities confirmed that the St. John’s Baptist church near the rural community of Valley View went up in flames shortly after midnight. The FBI in Jackson said it was investigating.

Negro leaders said two white men were seen at the church, located in a rural area, about five minutes before the fire broke out. They said they had identities of the two men and would turn the information over to federal authorities.
The St. John’s church was used as a freedom school by integration workers during the summer months and had been a headquarters for voter registration work among Madison County’s Negro population.

Madison County Sheriff Jack Cauthen said he was investigating the incident. He said this was the second Negro church in the county to be burned this summer. It makes the twenty-third Negro house of worship in Mississippi to be either damaged or destroyed by fires of mysterious origin since Negro leaders stepped up desegregation activities in the state at the beginning of the summer.”


St. Paul Dispatch. September 17, 1964.