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Affidavits of incidence of violence and intimidation in Tallahatchie County, Miss.


Civil Rights--Mississippi--History--20th century
Mississippi Freedom Project
Freedom Summer Project (Mississippi)


Council of Federated Organizations (U.S.)




Queens College Department of Special Collections and Archives (New York, N.Y.)



Date Created



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Spatial Coverage

Tallahatchie County (Miss.)


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The following affidavits were selected to give eyewitness and first person accounts of specific incidents in more formal detail. In several cases the affidavits are excerpted due to length or because more than one affidavit has been used to describe a situation in a given location.
All affidavits included here refer to occurrences this past summer. They are not the most atrocious statements that could have been gathered from experiences of Mississippi Negroes in everyday life or in connection with the movement during the past few years. It is apparent from the Tallahatchie County and Philadelphia-Neshoba County statements that these conditions did not begin this summer.
In most cases affidavits have been selected because they are the best official statements describing a situation or pattern existing across the state.
Highly publicized events such as the beating of Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld and two volunteers in Hattiesburg, or the “reign of terror" created in Jackson by two men one night when two separate shootings and a beating took place, have been omitted. Statements from Silas McGhee have not been included since the -admittedly historic- FBI arrests of three of his attackers broke that story into the nation's press.
Affidavits from Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, Jimmy Travis or the widow of Louis Allen, for example, have not been included as it is assumed that most persons who worked in Mississippi this past summer would be familiar with their stories. And since this set of statements is restricted to the summer of 1964 we have not attempted to insert such affidavits as SNCC worker MacArthur Cotton's describing Parchman Penitentiary last year where he was hung by his hands for three hours, or SNCC worker George Greene’s statements from Natchez.

It should be kept in mind that affidavits are not available for the bulk of incidents this past summer or, more importantly, from before.
(The following analysis of violence in Mississippi is excerpted from an analysis of affidavits submitted by plaintiffs in COFO v. Rainey, an omnibus suit filed in the U.S. District Court at Meridian this past summer.)
The use of violence by white men to keep Negroes “in their place” in Mississippi did not begin, as is sometimes asserted, with the coming of the civil rights movement to that state. Violence was basic to the system of slavery, and it has never been abandoned as a means of “controlling” the Negro population. Only the forms have changed.
But there has been an amazing consistency in the forms of organization used by the white man to meet the challenge of civil rights since the freeing of the slaves. The authors of Reconstruction Legislation realized that they must meet two closely related forms of resistance: (1) One was open violence, the use of brute and indiscriminate force by private white citizens and clandestine organ-

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izations against the Negro population to ensure that it was permanently terrorized and intimidated from asserting its rights; (2) An equally serious challenge coming from the leading officials of the white community-government officials, law enforcement officers, and members of the judiciary. By their refusal to indict and prosecute those who committed acts of the Reconstruction Period, they became accomplices in a conspiracy to “keep the Negro in his place”-a conspiracy which constantly resorted to both private and highly organized forms of violence.

...One hundred years later, Negroes in Mississippi and those who have come to help them...face (a situation) fundamentally identical to that which the legislators of 1866 faced in attmnpting to bring change to the South. Negroes and the civil rights workers in Mississippi today face both open violence and official negligence and complicity, just as they did in 1866…
Note: All affidavits reprinted here were notarized at the time they were sworn out, or in the event no notary public was available, were witnessed by at least two persons.
Affidavit I. Tallahatchie County
In February, 1964, Green Brewer, 29, now a resident of New Jersey, was visiting his parents in Charleston, Tallahatchie County. During this visit, he and his brother Charles went to the Huntly Grocery Store. According to Green Brewer’s affidavit:
“Charles went inside the store to get soft drinks. It seemed as if it was taking a long time for him to come out. David Baskin, a friend who was with us, walked to the door, then turned around and started to walk real fast to the road. I then began to hear the sound of some licks. I ran inside the store and saw my brother Charles lying on the floor. He was bleeding. He was unconscious. Mr. Huntly had backed up against the counter, holding an ax handle. Another white man, Mr. George Little, was also holding an ax handle.
“I bent down to Charles, called him twice, and asked him, ‘What’s the matter? What happened?’ There was no response. I then pulled him up and was getting him to the door, and by that time he was beginning to help himself. I then walked back to get the sunglasses that belonged to my brother...Mr. Huntly started to cuss me, saying I better get him out before I kill him.’
"Mr. Huntly then got his gun--and started to shake--when I got a blow from behind. I received a fractured skull, broken jawbone, broken nose and a burst eyeball, with little use of my eye. However, I was able to help my brother to the car... A brother, Jesse, met us and dron us to Charleston.
"Later, about a week later, the sheriff, Alex Doghan, came and asked us what happened. Another white man came later and said he was sent by the sheriff, and he interviewed us. Since then nothing has happened on our behalf.”

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Their mother, Mrs. Janie Brewer, said in another affidavit:
“...A neighbor friend of mine tol me that my sons had just been beaten up by white folks, and I lost my presences of mind for a while. Another son of mine, Eugene, found that my son Charles was in the Charleston Hospital, and that Greene was in the Grenada Hospital. The next day I went to the Charleston Hospital and saw my son Charles. I tried to talk to him. He would cry, and then lose consciousness, in and out. He would only say: “Where is my brother---and why?”
In Tallahatchie County, County Registrar William Cox is currently under a court injunction to determine the qualification of Negro registrants by the same standards as whites, not to limit Negro registrants to coming in one at a time, and to not use the constitutional interpretation section of the registration form.
this summer marked the first attempt by SNCC to “move into” Tallahatchie County.
On August 4, 1964, four members of the Brewer family attempted to register to vote. According to some SNCC spokesmen they were the first Negroes to try to register since Reconstruction; they were certainly the first in several decades.
The next night, according to an affidavit from Mrs. Melinda Brewer, a member of the Green Brewer family, a black pickup truck drove around past her house and the house of her brother-in-law, Jesse James Brewer. It stayed in the area 25 minutes.
On August 6, she stated, a green pickup truck drove by at about 1 or 2 am and cruised around. She continued:
“As they were driving I could see them using a searchlight on the trees like they was hunting animals… One of the men, about 7 or 8 of them, got out of the truck and walked over towards my bedroom window. He asked if I had seen Jesse Brewer or Earl Brewer. I said I hadn’t and asked why he was looking for them. He said he just wanted to see them. He left and drove off. The man was white; I could not tell whether the rest were white or not. I could see what I thought were guns sticking up in the back of the truck.
“Mr. Blunt is the field agent on the plantation on which I live. He said on August 6 that if anyon on Mr. Don’s place went to register to vote, that person was going to get kicked off the plantation. He said no on in Tallahatchie wants any of those niggers who go to the courthouse. He said he had seen that God damned all Jesse and Earl go at the courthouse and said they didn’t have no God damned business up thrre.
"I live on Mr. Don Addison's plantation. On Saturday, August 8, I went to his office to pick up my check. He told me they didn't want any of those damn nigger: going down to the courthouse.
"Mrs. John Brewer, a white woman, lives right down the road from me. On August 5, she came over to talk with me. She asked what was that brown car doing down there all the time. She said if they found out we was in any way involved in civil rights they was going to put us out, and she said she would sorry for

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Council of Federated Organizations (U.S.), “Affidavits,” Queens College Civil Rights Archives, accessed June 30, 2022, http://archives.qc.cuny.edu/civilrights/items/show/240.