The University of Southern Mississippi -- McCain Library and Archives
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Collection Title: FBI Files: Grenada, Mississippi Public School Riots, 1966-1967
Collection Number: M414
Volume: 2.25 cu ft
Restrictions: Available for research use by the serious student and scholar.
The Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954 ordered the desegregation of all public schools, declaring that separate educational facilities for white and African American students was unconstitutional and deprived the African American children of equality in education. The all-white public schools in Mississippi resisted these court orders to desegregate. Ten years later, in 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that outlawed segregation in restaurants, lodgings and any other public place. The process of desegregation in Mississippi, however, was slow and during these times there were numerous incidences of violence between whites and African Americans.
In1962 riots erupted when James Meredith became the first African American to be enrolled at the University of Mississippi, Oxford. In June of 1966 Meredith was shot and injured during a solo march organized to encourage African Americans to register to vote. To show their support, a much larger group of civil rights activists continued the march from Memphis to Jackson. The Meredith Mississippi March Against Fear arrived in Grenada, Mississippi on June 15. This sparked a five-month period of marches, demonstrations, boycotts, and protests to challenge the white supremacy groups that engulfed Grenada County. Using Bell Flower Baptist Church in Grenada, Mississippi as the Civil Rights activities headquarters, activists gathered each night for meetings and marches. Plans to boycott businesses and protest the segregation of public and private facilities were arranged.
The integration of Grenada's public schools in 1966 initiated some of the most violent outbreaks of riots and demonstrations during the civil rights movement. Mobs of whites congregated outside the public school to forcibly prevent African American children from entering. Those young children who managed to get to school were attacked by the mob when leaving school. For weeks the children had to be accompanied by adult civil rights activists in order to attempt to penetrate the mob. Finally, the court ordered the police to protect the children, and prohibited the mob from assembling outside the school.
The violence subsided, but discrimination and intimidation continued, and the Movement in Grenada held strong. Although more and more African American children were forced from the public schools that year, Grenada still had more African Americans attending formerly all-white schools than any other rural town in Mississippi. It was not until the fall of 1969 that public schools in Mississippi were fully integrated.
Contents of Collection
The FBI files contained in this collection were obtained by USM history professor, Dr. Charles Bolton, under the Freedom of Information Act. The collection consists of nearly eight thousand pages of redacted FBI files concerning the riots over integration in the Grenada, Mississippi public schools in 1966 and 1967. Also contained in these files is information about other civil rights activities, demonstrations, marches, boycotts, and meetings regarding the desegregation of both public and private facilities in Grenada, Mississippi. The files contain first-hand accounts, investigative reports, and photocopies of photographs that were collected by the FBI between 1966 and 1967.
The collection contains three different FBI File series recorded between 1966-1967: File: 157-6384; File: 173-3819; and File: 173-4035.
File: 157-6384 (Volumes 1-5, 1A, and Cross References) focus on the Grenada Lake Beach “swim-ins” and demonstrations, the picketing and boycotting of local grocery stores, and the nightly meetings and nightly marches from Bell Flower Baptist Church to the Town Square. File: 173-3819 (Volumes 1-5) and File: 173-4035 focus on the Grenada public school riots and walkouts.
Long, Worth W. The Civil Rights Documentation Project: the Grenada Movement, 1999 and 2000. McCain Library Mississippiana Collection. E185.93 M6 C574 2000.
Box and Folder List
FBI File: 173-3819 Riots Public Schools/ Grenada, Mississippi (1966-1967)
Folder 5 File: 173-3819 Volume 1
FBI File: 173-4035 Riots Public Schools/ Grenada, Mississippi (1966-1967)
Folder 3 File: 173-4035 (Pages 1-193)