In recognition of Black History Month, this is the last in a series of posts showcasing the Freedom Vote campaign of 1963, especially the Freedom Days of 1964. This series chronicled the campaign in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Dorian Randall and Sara Rowe Sims wrote the accompanying text.
Demonstrations associated with Freedom Day, January 22, 1964, Hattiesburg (Miss.). Bobbie Jean Evans, Palmer’s Crossing, Forrest County. Call number: PI/1994.0005, Moncrief (Winfred) Photograph Collection. (MDAH)
Despite harassment and arrests during the voting drive, many registrants decided to vote. Ballots were cast during church services, and ballot boxes were placed in local businesses such as grocery stores, cafes, beauty parlors, and pool halls. About twenty-five thousand ballots were distributed through the mail anonymously, but there was still a battle as intimidation surrounded the mock election. COFO’s goal was to acquire two hundred thousand votes, but the campaign resulted in more than eighty three-thousand votes. Hattiesburg accounted for 3,500. Although the goal was not met, movement workers were proud of the outcome. COFO staff capitalized on the campaign’s momentum and expanded throughout Leake and Issaquena counties, as well as Meridian. The question remained of whether to devise another statewide program to affect change in Mississippi. A week after the Freedom Vote, workers met in Greenville to discuss future strategies. This meeting was the impetus for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.
Source: John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 203-207.