On this day in 1966, James Meredith – the first African American to attend and graduate from the University of Mississippi – was shot as he led the March Against Fear for voter registration .
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.
Never forget and lets remember that we can’t sit on the sidelines in the struggle.