Food for Thought: Jackson Sit-ins

The fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 happens this year. Signed July 2, 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the act outlawed ingrained forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, as well as women. It also ended strict and biased voter registration requirements and public segregation in schools, at the workplace, and general public facilities like pools and libraries. This series will explore this landmark act and the events leading up to it in photographs taken throughout the South during this turbulent time.

The Jackson sit-in was one of the most violent and publicized sit-ins. On May 28, 1963, students and teachers from Tougaloo College in North Jackson made their way to downtown Jackson to sit at the Woolworth near the Governor’s mansion. Some students were beaten, one knocked unconscious, and another dragged out by her hair. Others sat quietly while a white mob poured mustard, ketchup, and sugar on them. They sat there for three hours. The sit-in occurred two weeks before the assassination of Medgar Evers, a Mississippi leader and field secretary for the NAACP. Evers played a crucial role in the sit-in, as he was the one who coordinated the effort and first alerted reporters.

Tougaloo professor John Salter sits with students Joan Trumpauer Mulholland and Anne Moody.
Tougaloo professor John Salter sits with students Joan Trumpauer [Mulholland] and Anne Moody.
NAACP leaders Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers being arrested by Deputy Chief J.L. Ray for attempting to picket outside the Jackson Woolworth store three days after the sit-in.
NAACP leaders Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers being arrested by Deputy Chief J.L. Ray for attempting to picket outside the Jackson Woolworth store three days after the sit-in.