(Date of Event: 1965-1966) On January 29, 1965, roughly thirty students at Henry Weathers High School (an all black public school in Issaquena County) began wearing SNCC paraphernalia to school. When the students were reprimanded by school administrators, an outpouring of support from other students and outside leaders occurred. Ultimately 300 students were suspended from school and some participating faculty members were denied the opportunity to renew work contracts. Unita Blackwell and Clarence Hall contacted Marian Wright of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Jackson, Mississippi, regarding the potential of filing a lawsuit on behalf of the students on standing through the First Amendment. By March 6, NAACP representatives sent petitions requesting the right to wear pro-SNCC materials, and no response was returned. On April 1, 1965, Blackwell v Issaquena County Board of Education was filed on behalf of 196 plaintiffs. Jerry and Jeremiah Blackwell, Unita Blackwell’s son and husband, were listed as the first plaintiffs.
District Judge Herald Cox initially rejected the request for an injunction concerning the SNCC pins. Simultaneously, however, Cox ruled that the black students of Henry Weathers High School could not be prohibited from attending white public schools. Cox ordered Issaquena County to submit a desegregation plan in what Unita Blackwell sites as “one of the very first desegregation cases in Mississippi.”
“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.
“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.
“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html
“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.
“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.
“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html
“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html