Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote

Overview

Forrest County, Mississippi, became a focal point of the civil rights movement when, in 1961, the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit against its voting registrar Theron Lynd. While thirty percent of the county's residents were black, only twelve black persons were on its voting rolls. United States v. Lynd was the first trial that resulted in the conviction of a southern registrar for contempt of court. The case served as a model for other challenges to voter discrimination in the South, and was an ...

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Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote

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Overview

Forrest County, Mississippi, became a focal point of the civil rights movement when, in 1961, the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit against its voting registrar Theron Lynd. While thirty percent of the county's residents were black, only twelve black persons were on its voting rolls. United States v. Lynd was the first trial that resulted in the conviction of a southern registrar for contempt of court. The case served as a model for other challenges to voter discrimination in the South, and was an important influence in shaping the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Count Them One by One is a comprehensive account of the groundbreaking case written by one of the Justice Department's trial attorneys. Gordon A. Martin, Jr., then a newly-minted lawyer, traveled to Hattiesburg from Washington to help shape the federal case against Lynd. He met with and prepared the government's sixteen black witnesses who had been refused registration, found white witnesses, and was one of the lawyers during the trial.

Decades later, Martin returned to Mississippi and interviewed the still-living witnesses, their children, and friends. Martin intertwines these current reflections with commentary about the case itself. The result is an impassioned, cogent fusion of reportage, oral history, and memoir about a trial that fundamentally reshaped liberty and the South.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"What a gripping book Count Them One by One is. It brings to life a fifty-year-old civil rights case in Mississippi that helped start our nation on the road to racial democracy . . . For me, this book is a stirring journey in time . . . Count Them One by One could be a great movie. It has heroes and villains, and it teaches lessons of freedom and justice. Those are lessons we should learn, again, and so should our children."

--Armand Derfner, Charleston Post and Courier

"A wonderful new book! . . . I'm sure it's going to touch a lot of people."

--Robin Roberts, Good Morning America

"Martin's gift as a storyteller invites readers to understand the heroes and villains and why they acted as they did . . . He makes the story lively and suspenseful."

--Choice, American Library Association

"A masterful combination of historical memoir and scholarly research."

--John Dittmer, professor emeritus of history, DePauw University, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi

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Product Details

Meet the Author


Gordon A. Martin, Jr., Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, is a retired trial judge, and an adjunct professor of law at New England Law School (Boston). His work has been published in the New England Law Review, Commonweal, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the Boston Globe, the New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement, and other periodicals.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Prologue In the Office of Registrar Luther Cox 3

"How Many Bubbles in a Bar of Soap?"

1 Race-Haunted Mississippi 6

2 A Civil Rights Division in Justice 19

3 Civil Rights and the 1960 Campaign 30

4 Theron Lynd and the End of an Era 36

5 Preparing for Trial 39

6 The New Judge in the Southern District of Mississippi 53

7 The First Witness, Jesse Stegall 63

8 For the Defendants 77

9 The Burgers of Hattiesburg M.M. Roberts Roberts, M. M. 86

10 The Other Young Turks M.M. Roberts Roberts, M. M. 94

11 Eloise Hopson Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 109

"I'd Like to See Them Make Me Change Anything I Want to Say" Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck

12 Hercules and Its Inside Agitator, Huck Dunagin Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 116

13 Huck's Men Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 130

The Black Workers at Hercules Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck

14 B.F. Bourn, Storekeeper and Freedom Fighter Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 154

15 The Reverends James C. Chandler and Wayne Kelly Pittman Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 157

16 The Reverend Wendell Phillips Taylor Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 167

17 The Leader, Vernon Dahmer Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 176

18 The White Witnesses and the Women Who Registered Them Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 179

19 "Negro or White Didn't Have a Thing in the World to Do with It" Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 190

Theron Lynd Takes the Stand Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck

20 Ike's Fifth Circuit Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 199

Getting On with the Job at Hand Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck

21 After the Trial Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 213

22 Mississippi Today Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 231

Epilogue Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 234

Acknowledgments Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 236

Notes Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 238

Bibliography Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 260

Index Chuck Lewis Lewis, Chuck 265

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2010

    Fans of history and current events will love this!

    A compulsively readable story about a group of Mississippi citizens who braved the establishment and participated in a law suit that would enable them to register to vote. Contemporary readers either do not know or have forgotten about this period in our history. The perfect holiday gift for a friend or for yoursefl

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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