Natchez, Mississippi saw its share of violence against blacks during the civil rights era. It was home to one of the largest Ku Klux Klan chapters in the history of the United States.
Most of the Ku Klux Klan members were employed by the city’s police force. African Americans who fought for equal rights were often targeted and terrorized.
In 1964, three black residents were killed by the Natchez Ku Klux Klan members, and numerous other residents were beaten, kidnapped, or tortured. Many of the black churches and black-owned businesses were bombed and burned down. These violent incidents continued well into 1965.
In August of 1965, George Metcalfe, the president of the Natchez chapter of the NAACP, was almost killed by a bomb that had been planted in his car. After the murder attempt, as well as the other acts of violence that had been plaguing the region, black community leaders organized a series of boycotts and marches, attracting over 1000 African-American participants.
However, about a month later, a local judge issued an injunction banning all forms of protest activity in Natchez. When African Americans defied the ban by marching on October 2, 1965, over 300 residents were arrested. All participants aged 12 years or older were taken to the notoriously brutal Parchman Farm prison located two hours away.
For much of the 19th century after the American Civil War, the state of Mississippi used a convict lease system for its prisoners. The system led to entrapment and a high rate of convictions for minor offenses for black males, whose population as prisoners increased rapidly in the decades after the war.