Civil Rights activists in Mississippi used a number of tactics to destroy
discriminatory Jim Crow policies. One of the most successful was the boycott.
Over time, blacks came to realize that local establishments depended on
them for their livelihoods. As a result, they began to boycott those establishments
that either refused to hire or to serve blacks. In a number of cities and
counties throughout the state, blacks placed economic pressure on merchants
to bring about social change. While they experienced violence, incarceration,
and eviction from their homes, these activists demonstrated to the business
elite that their money, or the lack of it, could make or break their establishments.
Hattye Gatson, an activist from Pickens, said "it really did hurt the town
when the boycotts took place, but through it all, they removed the signs
and partitions and they got integrated." Bea Jenkins, one of the most active
MFDP members, explained that their casualties were kept low because black
farmers, like Tom Griffin and Eugene Saffold, "supervised" them and acted
as their "protection." Jenkins even told of an incident where she actually
boycotted the Holmes County Bank, which was owned by the man whose home
she cleaned for a living. She laughingly noted that instead of being fired,
she "just went back into their home the next day and worked" because her
boss knew she was serious about the work she was doing.
From the Charles Marx Collection, McCain Library and Archives, University of Southern Mississippi.