Tougaloo Nine

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The Tougaloo Nine were a group of African-American students at Tougaloo College who participated in civil disobedience by staging sit-ins of segregated public institutions in Mississippi in 1961.[1]

Mississippi was considered by civil rights organizer Medgar Evers to be "too racist and violent" for lunch counter sit-ins so the public library was chosen because it was supported by both Black and White taxpayers. The students, all NAACP Youth Council members led by Joseph Jackson Jr., entered the "white" Jackson (MS) Public Library on March 27 and staged a "read in."[2][3] They were told "There's a colored library on Mill Street.... You are welcome there." When they refused to leave, they were arrested and charged with breach of the peace for failing to leave when ordered to do so.[4] Protests followed the students' arrest.[5] Policemen with dogs attacked the protestors as they applauded the arrival of the Tougaloo Nine at the courthouse, resulting in many injuries. Medgar Evers later reflected "This act on the part of the police officials brought on greater unity in the Negro community and projected the NAACP in a position of being the accepted spokesman."[6]

The students spent the night in jail. They appeared in court the next day, were not allowed to see their attorneys Jack Young and R. Jess Brown before their hearing, and were fined $100 each and given a thirty-day suspended sentence and year's probation.[7][3] In 1962, partially as a result of this event, the American Library Association membership adopted the "Statement on Individual Membership, Chapter Status and Institutional Membership" which stated that membership in the association and its chapters had to be open to everyone regardless of race, religion, or personal belief. Four state chapters withdrew from ALA: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.[8][9]

Unlike the Freedom Riders and the Friendship Nine, the Tougaloo Nine are not as well known historically. Sammy Bradford, one of the Tougaloo Nine, said on the occasion of the read in anniversary: "It seems that everybody is being celebrated and praised for their fine work except the very people who launched the civil rights movement against some of the greatest odds ever faced by man or beast. I'm not saying that the Tougaloo Nine should be rolled out like world-conquering heroes in a ticker-tape parade every year, but they should at least be acknowledged, along with many others, whenever a purported celebration of civil rights activities in Mississippi takes place."[1]

The Nine[edit]

  • Joseph Jackson Jr.
  • Albert Lassiter
  • Alfred Cook
  • Ethel Sawyer
  • Geraldine Edwards Hollis
  • Evelyn Pierce
  • Janice Jackson
  • James "Sammy" Bradford
  • Meredith Anding Jr.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Freedom Riders, Tougalou Nine reflect on the great events of 1961". Jackson Advocate. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  2. ^ Cook, Karen (2013). "Struggles Within: Lura G. Currier, the Mississippi Library Commission, and Library Services to African Americans". Information & Culture: A Journal of History. 48 (1): 134–150. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  3. ^ a b McBride, Earnest. "Hamer forum pays tribute to Tougaloo 9". Jackson Advocate. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  4. ^ Wiegand, Wayne. "Desegregating Libraries in the American South Forgotten heroes in civil rights history". American Libraries. American Library Association. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Eberhart, George. "The Tougaloo Nine Remembered". American Libraries. American Library Association. Retrieved 16 January 2018. 
  6. ^ Evers-Williams, Myrlie; Marrable, Manning (2006). The Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writings, Letters, and Speeches. Basic Books. p. 229. ISBN 0786722495. 
  7. ^ "The Tougaloo Nine". MS Civil Rights Project. Rething MS. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Robbins, Louise S. (1996). Censorship and the American Library: The American Library Association's Response to Threats to Intellectual Freedom, 1939-1969. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 117. ISBN 0313296448. 
  9. ^ McCook, Kathleen de la Peña. "Rocks in the Whirlpool". ALA History - Equity of Access. American Library Association. Retrieved 2 June 2017.