Sunflower

PEOPLE

Senator James Eastland

Senator Eastland, born in Doddsville and known as "Slippery Jim,"served in the Senate in 1941 and from 1943 to 1972. His legacy is one of opposition to equal rights for all Mississippians. Before serving in the Senate, he was trained as a lawyer and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives. He opposed civil rights legislation, specifically denouncing Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Senator Eastland died on February 19, 1986, in Doddsville.

Sources:

Moye, J. Todd. Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

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PLACES

William Chapel M.B. Church

Amzie Moore, an African American businessman from nearby Cleveland, brought workers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committe (SNCC) to Sunday morning services here on August 9, 1962. They met Joe and Rebecca McDonald, leaders in the curch who opened their home to the young Civil Rights workers. Two weeks later, the SNCC staffers held the first of many mass meetings to be hosted at this site. Fannie Lou Hamer attended this meeting and got involved with SNCC's efforts to organize a voter registration initiative. Her participation in a trip to the Sunflower County courthouse in Indianola on August 31 was the beginning of her rise to prominence in the Mississippi Movement.

William Chapel suffered several repercussions for supporting Civil Rights activites. The mayor revoked their free water and tax exemptions since the building was no longer being used exclusively for worship. The church was fire-bombed by night riders on June 25, 1964.

It was the women of the church--deaconesses like Rebecca McDonald and Mrs. Hamer--who pressured the pastor and deacons to keep William Chapel open to Civil Rights activities. As historian J. Todd Moye notes,"[Charles] McLaurin, Hamer, and the women of the church continued to use the pulpit on Sundays to cajole fearful congregants into attempting to register at the county courthouse."
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The next site described in this guide is on private property outside Ruleville. Please read the text on the next page, then follow the directions at the bottom of the page to stop number 2 on the tour.

Sources:

"Ruleville Civil Rights Driving Tour"

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GROUPS

Freedom Schools of Sunflower

Besides registering African Americans to vote as part of Freedom Summer in 1964, SNCC also created Freedom Schools in the Delta, which focused on black history, politics, and artistic achievement. The schools educated both children and adults. Moye reports in Let the People Decide that,”[S]chools [were] a means of consciousness-raising . . . An alternative school system could teach alternative values, which would be crucial to the creation of a movement culture”(125).

Sources:

Moye, J. Todd. Let the People Decide: Black Freedom and White Resistance Movements in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Olson, Lynne. Freedom’s Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970. New York and London: Scribner, 2001.

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DOCUMENTS

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