We have hung our heads and cried, Cried for those like Lee who died, Died for you and he died for me, Died for the cause of equality, But we’ll never turn back. – Staple Singers
Freedom summer was one of the most noted times in African-American history. However, there are some historical aspects about that summer that have been forgotten.
In 1964, three civil rights workers’ bodies were dug up from a 14-foot dam in Neshoba County, Mississippi: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. In the city of McComb, Mississippi, bombings were occurring almost every day. It was so bad that the city was deemed as “Bomb Capital of the World”
during that time.
The small town of McComb is located outside of Jackson, Mississippi, the state’s capital. It is noted that over a dozen bombings, riots, and other violent acts took place during that summer in McComb. If you were black and involved in any type of civil rights activities, such as voting or providing assistance to civil rights workers, you were considered a threat and targeted by whites.
Blacks were being arrested for any and everything that white people felt threatened by their being. Two teenage black students at a freedom school, who had been receiving harassing phone calls, were arrested for using profanity over the phone. The students were tried without counsel and sentenced to one year in jail under the “Mississippi Phone Harassment Law.” The individuals who were calling and harassing the teenagers received no jail time.
Churches and businesses were burned down. It was not uncommon to go to bed and hear explosive sounds during the night. No protection was provided to the black communities, as most of the law officials were part of the problem.. Law officials would only arrive to hide evidence, intimidate victims, or make victims disappear altogether.
By September 20, 1964, blacks in McComb were fed-up when the home of freedom fighter “Mama Quinn” was bombed. However, Mama Quinn was arrested for bombing her own home. Blacks had accepted the fact that there wouldn’t be any protection for exercising their constitutional rights from local and federal authorities. So, they decided it was time to take things into their own hands.
The black residents of the city took to the streets and began destroying everything in sight. They burned police cars, destroyed businesses owned by white people, and shot and killed several white residents.
Newspapers reported that a “Negro Riot” was occurring in McComb. Days later, Mama Quinn and three other freedom fighters traveled to the nation’s capital and met with President Lyndon B. Johnson. The next week, three white men were charged with racial bombings in McComb.
Click here for a timeline of events that took place in McComb, Mississippi
I am a native of McComb and experienced those times of bombing. It was awful! We lived next door t a church which was expected to be bombed because of their participation in the Civil Rights Movement. I remember my dad giving my mom a gun because his work took him out of town for days. Mom hated guns and did not want to use it. Thank God she didn’t have to. I remember lying in bed, hearing the bombs go off. Windows in our home shook. It was a scary time.
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I came across this website while looking for information about my great grandfather Robert Lee Warner who once owned a movie theatre in McComb, Ms. I have yet to find any information. I was told by my grandmother that he was the first African American to own a theatre in Mississippi and also a motel, restaurant and barber shop in Amite, La. If you have any information and would be willing to help me in my quest to learn of my history please contact me,it would be much appreciated.
Black children need to know their history so they will not live in the past.
Hello that was a very report on the history of Mccomb but you add others that was involved back then Ms Quinn was the only person who’s home was bomb. And also there was others that helped others African American while they was trying tp escape the harsh treatment of Whites good report just add others.
I was a white, eight year old at the time of these events and lived just a few miles South of McComb in Magnolia. I distinctly remember my Mother answering the phone and beginning to scream, cry and yell for them to never call again. I understood it was someone with the KKK making an anonymous call threatening us because my Dad was a MS State Trooper and was working with the FBI to discover the bombers. I remember my family driving by a burned and bombed church on Hwy 51 just South of McComb. Looking at googlmaps, I belive it was where Society Hill MB Church is located. Sometime in the 1980’s my father confided with me that during this period he observed a car “casing” our home one night. He snuck out to the fence line/bushes and got the tag number. The car’s owner was a known racist and KKK member. One dark night my Dad pulled the car over on an isolated road, cuffed the driver and took him to an old gravel pit. While holding a gun to his head he explained that the guy best tell him all he knew or his body would never be found. This information was used to gather intelligence in a more “legal” manner to find and convict the bombers. Our family has a picture published in the McComb Enterprise Journal (hand dated 10/5/1964) of the bomb making material and a grenade that was recovered. Please understand that neither slavery or the 1960’s struggle for civil rights would have succeeded without the courageous work and support of righteous whites who understood we are all bothers and sisters in the eyes of our loving Father/Creator/Christ Jesus.