MLK Jr. & Other Civil Rights Giants

by MullOverThis

Fairly recently, I had a discussion with a family member who was highly offended that I did not esteem Martin Luther King, Jr. above other civil rights workers, civil rights attorneys, and politicians who worked in tandem with the movement to fight for equality for all people in the United States.  The distinguishing factor between Martin Luther King Jr. and others was that he paid for my liberty today, in part,  with his own life.  I could not possibly be civilized and not recognize the bravery of Martin Luther King, Jr. who was aware of impending threats on his life, had actually suffered brutality, and still made a conscious decision to be the spokesperson and key leader to a non-violent liberation movement.  Coretta Scott King and his children were the ones who paid an ultimate price as well.   I had to make the critical point to my relative, which was quite difficult to swallow, that Martin Luther King was not the only person who was aware that committed action in the civil rights movement could cost anyone his own life, and still worked to fight segregation, discrimination, racism, and to create opportunities for economic equality among all people.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was a martyr for freedom.  He, however, was not the only one.  Look at the brief stories of 40 other people who died prematurely, because of the wicked violence from a white supremacist South and corrupt United States government during the Civil Rights era.  EACH PERSON WHO DIED, like Martin Luther King, Jr., helped to pave the way to the greater (but not yet finished) race relations and protections we now enjoy under the law in the United States.  All of these individuals had families who had to redefine life without them.  This tribute is the Martin Luther King Jr., AND ALL OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, as adapted from the Southern Poverty Law Center website:


May 7, 1955 Belzoni, Mississippi. 


REV. GEORGE LEE, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.


August 13, 1955 Brookhaven, Mississippi.


LAMAR SMITH was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man. Smith had organized blacks to vote in a recent election.


August 28, 1955 Money, Mississippi. 


EMMETT LOUIS TILL, a 14-year-old boy on vacation from Chicago, reportedly flirted with a white woman in a store. Three nights later, two men took Till from his bed, beat him, shot him, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. An all-white jury found the men innocent of murder.


October 22, 1955 Mayflower, Texas. 


JOHN EARL REESE, 16, was dancing in a café when white men fired shots into the windows. Reese was killed and two others were wounded. The shootings were part of an attempt by whites to terrorize blacks into giving up plans for a new school.


January 23, 1957 Montgomery, Alabama. 


WILLIE EDWARDS JR., a truck driver, was on his way to work when he was stopped by four Klansmen. The men thought Edwards was another man who they believed was dating a white woman. They force Edwards at gunpoint to jump off a bridge into the Alabama River. Edwards’ body was found three months later.


April 25, 1959 Poplarville, Mississippi.

























MACK CHARLES PARKER, 23, was accused of raping a white woman. Three days before his case was set for trial, a masked mob took him from his jail cell, beat him, shot him, and threw him in the Pearl River.

September 25, 1961 Liberty, Mississippi.


HERBERT LEE, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

April 9, 1962 Taylorsville, Mississippi.


 CPL. ROMAN DUCKSWORTH JR., a military police officer stationed in Maryland, was on leave to visit his sick wife when he was ordered off a bus by a police officer and shot dead. The police officer may have mistaken Ducksworth for a “freedom rider” who was testing bus desegregation laws.

September 30, 1962 Oxford, Mississippi.


PAUL GUIHARD, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.

April 23, 1963 Attalla, Alabama.


WILLIAM LEWIS MOORE, a postman from Baltimore, was shot and killed during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to intolerance. 

 June 12, 1963 Jackson, Mississippi.
MEDGAR EVERS, who directed naacp operations led a campaign for integration in Jackson when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.
September 15, 1963 Birmingham, Alabama.

ADDIE MAE COLLINS, DENISE McNAIR, CAROLE ROBERTSON and CYNTHIA WESLEY were getting ready for church services when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing all four ofthe school-age girls. The church had been a center for civil rights meetings and marches.
September 15, 1963 Birmingham, Alabama. 

VIRGIL LAMAR WARE, 13, was riding on the handlebars of his brother’s bicycle when he was fatally shot by white teenagers. The white youths had come from a segregationist rally held in the aftermath of theSixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.

January 31, 1964 Liberty, Mississippi.


LOUIS ALLEN, who witnessed the murder of civil rights worker Herbert Lee, endured years of threats, jailings and harassment. He was making final arrangements to move North on the day he was killed.


April 7, 1964 Cleveland, Ohio.


REV. BRUCE KLUNDER was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.


May 2, 1964 Meadville, Mississippi.


HENRY HEZEKIAH DEE and CHARLES EDDIE MOORE were killed by Klansmen who believed the two were part of a plot to arm blacks in the area. (There was no such plot.) Their bodies were found during a massive search for the missing civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.


 June 21, 1964 Philadelphia, Mississippi.


JAMES EARL CHANEY, ANDREW GOODMAN, and MICHAEL HENRY SCHWERNER, young civil rights workers, were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders. They were shot, and their bodies were buried in an earthen dam.


 July 11, 1964 Colbert, Georgia.


LT. COL. LEMUEL PENN, a Washington, D.C., educator, was driving home from U.S. Army Reserves training when he was shot and killed by Klansmen in a passing car.


February 26, 1965 Marion, Alabama


JIMMIE LEE JACKSON was beaten and shot by state troopers as he tried to protect his grandfather and mother from a trooper attack on civil rights marchers. His death led to the Selma-Montgomery march and the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act.

March 11, 1965 Selma, Alabama

REV. JAMES REEB, a Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.

March 25, 1965 Selma Highway, Alabama

VIOLA GREGG LIUZZO, a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.

June 2, 1965 Bogalusa, Louisiana

ONEAL MOORE was one of two black deputies hired by white officials in an attempt to appease civil rights demands. Moore and his partner, Creed Rogers, were on patrol when they were blasted with gunfire from a passing car. Moore was killed and Rogers was wounded.

July 18, 1965 Anniston, Alabama

WILLIE BREWSTER was on his way home from work when he was shot and killed by white men. The men belonged to the National States Rights Party, a violent neo-Nazi group whose members had been involved in church bombings and murders of blacks.

August 20, 1965 Hayneville, Alabama

JONATHAN MYRICK DANIELS, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.

January 3, 1966 Tuskegee, Alabama

SAMUEL LEAMON YOUNGE JR., a student civil rights activist, was fatally shot by a white gas station owner following an argument over segregated restrooms.

January 10, 1966 Hattiesburg, Mississippi

VERNON FERDINAND DAHMER, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

July 10, 1966 Natchez, Mississippi

BEN CHESTER WHITE, who had worked most of his life as a caretaker on a plantation, had no involvement in civil rights work. He was murdered by Klansmen who thought they could divert attention from a civil rights march by killing a black person.

July 30, 1966 Bogalusa, Louisiana

CLARENCE TRIGGS was a bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality. He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head.

February 27, 1967 Natchez, Mississippi

































































































February 27, 1967 Natchez, Mississippi






























WHARLEST JACKSON, the treasurer of his local naacp chapter, was one of many blacks who received threatening Klan notices at his job. After Jackson was promoted to a position previously reserved for whites, a bomb was planted in his car. It exploded minutes after he left work one day, killing him instantly.

May 12, 1967 Jackson, Mississippi

BENJAMIN BROWN, a former civil rights organizer, was watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by stray gunshots from police who fired into the crowd.


February 8, 1968 Orangeburg, South Carolina

SAMUEL EPHESIANS HAMMOND JR., DELANO HERMAN MIDDLETON and HENRY EZEKIALSMITH were shot and killed by police who fired on student demonstrators at the South Carolina State College campus.

April 4, 1968 Memphis, Tennessee

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the civil rights movement. He led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.


Shelton Chappell was only four months old on March 23, 1964, when his mother, Johnnie Mae, was murdered as she walked along a roadside in Jacksonville, Fla. Her killers were white men looking for a black person to shoot following a day of racial unrest. More than 30 years later, with the help of a local detective, Shelton’s tireless work brought his mother the recognition she deserved.

To all those who lived through the Civil Rights era, like my colleague’s grandfather who suffered a blow to his head from participating in a sit-in at a Harlem lunch counter and remained in dependent care until his death earlier this year, this moderator applauds your courage and is completely grateful that you assumed the same risk as Martin Luther King, Jr. in just living through such an age.   To those who were fortunate enough to have survived the bullets, water hoses, nooses, beatings, fires, dogs, the KKK, burning crosses, cocktail bombs, and J. Edgar Hoover’s corrupt policies–credence and kudos.


























9 Responses to “MLK Jr. & Other Civil Rights Giants”

  1. Dear sister in the Lord,

    I have never been so glad I read to the end of a blog post. You have educated at least one (probably many in the end) who did not know many of these names before reading it. My blog is about worship, and I think it completely appropriate to put a link to this post on my blog, if you don’t mind. I want people to read it and think hard.

    God bless you and thank you for sharing this powerful testimony to all these lives whom God holds so dear.

  2. Oh, yeah, and the incident with the four girls who died in the church bombing, I know a song called “Bear It Away” by Kate Campbell. You should check it out.

  3. Hello from Lowndes County, Alabama! Enjoyed your website! I organized the Jonathan Daniels memorial in Hayneville about 10 years ago, and every year in August there is an event to honor him and all the civil rights heroes. If you every come this way, give me a holler and I’ll give you a tour.

    Nice writing.

  4. Thanks, and I would be honored!

  5. I discussed this Monday in class, that the civil rights movement was already going full steam ahead before MLK. This does not take away from his contribution, but it must be known that the disenfranchised who rode the buses to work and mopped floors were the ones that got it started, not the people in suits with ten degrees. Also, it is interesting how one is defined by time and space. During his life, MLK was considered a menace to society by the U.S. Government. Today he is considered a hero. Interesting how history rewrites itself. What will they think of next……….?

  6. Isn’t it amazing how the dead are often more celebrated than when they were living? And, the CRM was certainly in place quite some time before MLK. The “roots” of the movement were all the way back to the days of Dred Scott and abolitionists who worked against the Black Codes and its effects.

  7. Philadelphia, Mississippi
    Civil Rights Murders Case

    Why only Killen prosecuted?

    On January 6, 2005, Edgar Ray Killen was indicted on state murder charges. He was convicted on three counts of manslaughter on June 21, 2005.

    None of the many others who were complicit in the murders of the three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, have been indicted by the state of Mississippi.

    Eight people who faced federal conspiracy to deny civil rights or other charges in the 1960s related to the murders of the three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi are still living.

    But only Edgar Ray “Preacher” Killen finally faced state charges.

    Why only Killen?

    What about the others?

    Olen Burrage – presently living, Philadelphia, MS

    James Thomas “Pete” Harris – presently living, Meridian, MS

    Tommy Horne – presently living, Meridian, MS

    Billy Wayne Posey – presently living, Meridian, MS

    Jimmy Snowden – presently living, Hickory, MS

    Jimmy Lee Townsend – presently living, Philadelphia, MS

    Richard Willis – presently living, Noxapater, MS

  8. I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also visit this blog on regular basis to take updated from
    most recent news.


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