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Thunder of FreedomBlack Leadership and the Transformation of 1960s Mississippi$
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Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner and Cheryl Reitan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813140933

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813140933.001.0001

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Voter Registration, December 1964–December 1965

Voter Registration, December 1964–December 1965

(p.127) 7 Voter Registration, December 1964–December 1965
Thunder of Freedom

Sue [Lorenzi] Sojourner

Cheryl Reitan

University Press of Kentucky

Despite the passage of the new Voting Rights Act, the Holmes County registrar continued using arbitrary tests to deny blacks the right to register to vote. When the registrar ridiculed schoolteacher Bernice Montgomery and challenged her to recite the U.S. constitution he was shocked when she returned. Montgomery recited the entire U.S. constitution in front of the registrar and other courthouse employees and was allowed to register. Movement leaders began a petition campaign and filed affidavits requesting federal registrars to come and set up a voter registration office in the county. U.S. Attorney General Katzenbach sent federal registrars who arrived on November 8, 1965. In seven weeks, 2,100 Holmes blacks were registered, bringing the total to 2,800. ASCS elections were held, with mail-in ballots allowed, and ten blacks were elected. McGee's Café, a local hangout, is described.

Keywords:   Voting Rights Act, federal registrars, U.S. Attorney General Katzenbach, ASCS elections, Bernice (Patton) Montgomery

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