Lamar Smith was a 63-year-old black farmer and a World War I veteran. He was also a member of the Regional Counsel of Negro Leadership and a voting rights activist. Smith was born in 1892 but very little is known about his childhood.
Smith voted and he worked hard to help get other blacks out to do the same in the primary election. During this time there was a run-off primary scheduled for August 23. On August 13, Smith was at the courthouse helping other black voters fill out the absentee ballots so they could vote in the runoff without having to endure violence at the polls. Smith was adamant about making every black person’s vote count.
Smith was shot dead right in front of the courthouse in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, around 10 a.m that morning. It was reported during that time that “dozens” of white people witnessed the murder, including the towns local sheriff. However, no one came forward to identify the man who murdered Smith. Smith’s murder was one of several racially motivated attacks in Mississippi in 1955. Later three men were arrested in connection with the murder of Smith, but an all-white Brookhaven grand jury failed to indict anyone. It was also reported by the district attorney that the sheriff failed to even arrest anyone after knowing as much facts as the district attorney knew.