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Tue, 09.11.1962

Voter Registration Workers Wounded in Mississippi

On this date in 1962, two young voter registration workers were shot during a registration drive in the South. Shotgun blasts wounded the two fired through the window of a home in Ruleville, MS.

At the time, there was good reason for seeing this incited as politics in the deep South as white folks' business.   At the time, the percentage of Blacks registered to vote in most of the Deep South was typically 8 percent, 3 percent, and 0.5 percent. The percentage of whites registered to vote was 110 percent, 111 percent, and 145 percent.

These figures still didn't speak to such a level of voter suppression. Legal exclusionary devices kept many off the voting rolls; potential registrants could be failed for anything, from inaccurately interpreting a section of the state constitution chosen by the registrar to underlining rather than circling Mr. on the registration forms.

In response to the gunshot incident, James Foreman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) asked President Kennedy to "convene a special White House Conference to discuss means of stopping the wave of terror sweeping through the South," especially where SNCC was working on voter registration.


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