Alyene Quin, or Mama Quin, as she was affectionately called by SNCC workers, owned a small business establishment on Summit Street in Mississippi which became a center of civil rights activity in the McComb Movement. Threats against her home business came in response to her strong leadership in the Movement.
Quinn was born in Walthall County. When SNCC came to small towns like McComb, Mississippi, people like Aylene “Mama” Quinn were essential to their survival and taught them much. Quinn was a longtime member of the NAACP and had been volunteering her restaurant, South of the Border, for underground meetings since the mid-fifties.
Quin’s home was bombed on Sunday night, September 20, 1964. The dynamite, which exploded outside the front window, destroyed the entire front of the house and narrowly missed killing her two children. (Society Hill Baptist church was also bombed that night.) In an outrageous turn, local authorities accused Mrs. Quin of bombing her own home.
Quinn supported more than voter registration, however. Many parents were furious about their children’s involvement in the Burglund student walkout, calling SNCC a “bunch of troublemakers.” But Quinn stood by her daughter Carolyn and demanded that the students be readmitted without signing the pledge.
She also stood by SNCC with the revival of movement activity in Southwest Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964, despite risk to herself and her family. “Three years ago she was one of the first to welcome Moses and lend him and the SNCC workers her support. Her cafe has always been open–despite the threats.
Quin’s cafe, South of the Border, was at 500 Summit Street. There she hosted Movement people and local black leaders who supported them, serving them meals and allowing them to meet. Later, when threatened by the cafe’s white landlord, she began serving meals out of her home.
read a transcript copy of an interview with Alyene Quin at the link below: