item: 6

Freedom Vote, Fall 1963:

Item # 1-11

The photograph was identified by Moncrief as "Henry for Governor Rally, Oct. 1963." Moncrief reported on the rally for the Hattiesburg American.

This event was part of COFO's Freedom Vote campaign in the fall of 1963. This voter education and registration drive was largely conceived by and directed by SNCC project director Bob Moses and Allard Lowenstein, a North Carolina State University law professor and civil rights veteran. Lowenstein, a Yale graduate, recruited a large number of white Yale students to participate, and the project marked the first large-scale influx of white volunteers into the state. Culminating with a mock gubernatorial election, the aim was to educate the disfranchised about the election process and focus national attention on the need and demand for change. In addition, organizers hoped to invigorate activities throughout Mississippi. COFO chairman and state NAACP president Aaron Henry of Clarksdale ran as the Freedom Party candidate for governor with Rev. Edwin King, Tougaloo College chaplain, as his running mate. The candidates toured the state with a rally for Aaron Henry held in Hattiesburg on October 29, 1963, in the upstairs meeting room at the Masonic Temple, 522 Mobile Street. According to a subsequent "confidential" report by Leland Cole and Louie Risk for the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, the meeting was headed by local SNCC field workers Gerald Bray and Charles Glenn. The report indicates that the proceedings began and ended with a prayer by a local minister. Despite fire sirens blaring outside the building, Glenn led the attendants in singing freedom songs, after which regional SNCC director Lawrence Guyot spoke. Guyot was followed by Aaron Henry, who was introduced by local activist Victoria Gray of Palmers Crossing. The Commission report also identified five Yale students who were assisting with the Freedom Vote campaign. Investigators estimated approximately 200 attended the meeting, about 50 of whom cast mock ballots and signed registration sheets. Investigators noted that they were able to steal three of these sheets, which they turned over to the local police chief.1

Links to Related Records:

Records pertaining to civil rights activities in Forrest County, the Freedom Vote, and the Aaron Henry for Governor campaign are available online in the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission records.

Please Note:

The Moncrief (Winfred) Photograph Collection is NOT part of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission records. For information about the Sovereignty Commission, its activities and the long legal battle to open its records, please see the Agency History and Access Chronology in Sovereignty Commission Online:

Cole & Risk Report

The "confidential" report submitted to the Commission by hired investigators Leland Cole and Louie Risk is located in the Aaron Henry Folder.

Click on the links below to access the specific report or the folder.

Forrest County Folders

The following folders are specifically identified as containing information on Forrest County. Additional records may also be found when conducting a broader Name Search for individuals active in the county or Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi).

Click on the links below to access the folders.

Name Searches:

Additional records may also be found by conducting a broader Name Search for individuals identified in these images. Please be aware of variant name spellings when conducting searches.

1 Joseph A. Sinshimer, "The Freedom Vote of 1963: New Strategies of Racial Protest in Mississippi," Journal of Southern History (May 1989) 217-244; Lee Cole and Louie Risk, "Special Report - Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission," October 30, 1963, Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission Records Online SCRID# 1-16-1-70-1-1-1 to 4-1-1 <> (July 17, 2005); Hattiesburg American, October 28-30, 1963.