The Meredith Mississippi March-1966 James Meredith March Button

(See photos below)

The Meredith Mississippi March took its name from James Meredith, who became the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962, after a ruling by federal courts that he could not be denied admission. On June 5, 1966, Meredith, now a Columbia University law student, and a few companions, began a walk from Memphis, Tenn. to Jackson, Miss. to encourage African Americans to register and vote. He called it a "march against fear." On June 6 he was wounded with a shotgun blast.
The next day, leaders of the major civil rights organizations, Dr. Martin Luther King of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), Floyd McKissick of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and Stokely Carmichael of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee), announced that they would resume his march, and invited freedom-loving people from all over the country to join them.
For almost three weeks, between a couple hundred and a couple thousand people walked the 220 miles to the state capitol, camping out at night under rented circus tents. Local people fed the marchers on the way. After asking that federal registrars be sent to Mississippi, civil rights leaders took groups of marchers to nearby towns to canvass, rally and bring local African Americans to be registered. The Dept. of Justice later estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 black Mississippians were registered to vote during the march.
Well guarded by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the marchers were not attacked on their main route, but some were assaulted on the side trips.
The March concluded on June 26 with a rally of 15,000 people in Jackson, while over a thousand officers in the Mississippi Highway Patrol, National Guard, and local law enforcement agencies guarded the capital building.

Photos of The Meredith Mississippi March by Jo Freeman


Please click on thumbnails to view the complete image


Marchers line up to resume walking after a lunchbreak.



As the day ends, marchers leave the highway to go to their campgrounds for the evening.



Almost every Mississippi town has a Civil War monument, usually in the town square. Marchers gathered around this momument to rally for civil rights. Bob Green of SCLC is speaking, while Big Lester eyes the crowd. The American flag was added by the marchers.




Another county seat, another Civil War monmument, another rally. Hosea Williams, director of Southern projects for SCLC, addresses the crowd. Floyd McKissick of CORE stands behind him.




Irritated by the marchers take over of the local Civil War monmuments, Mississippi officials surrounded this one with prisioners from Parchman Penitentiary. The rally in this town was held on the courthouse steps.



Representatives of Health and Hospital workers, Local 1199, New York City.



One young man remembers Jimmy Jackson, who was killed February 1965 in Alabama while demonstrating for voter registration.




During the March, local Mississippians registered to vote for the first time.




Two march participants watch a rally on the courthouse steps.



Waiting for something to happen.



Some good ole boys give their opinion of the marchers.






The marchers arrive in Jackson, Mississippi for the last rally of the march.



The Mississippi Highway Patrol keeps the marchers away from the Capitol building in Jackson.



Dr. King speaks to the marchers under the circus tent.



James Meredith addresses the rally in Jackson, Mississippi.



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