In 1961, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) divided into two wings. The first wing involving direct action was led by Diane Nash, and the other, focusing on voter registration was led by Charlie Jones. They formulated a plan to send field secretaries out into neighborhoods to educate the black population on their voting rights in hopes of registering them to vote. As this movement progressed, the organization faced greater backlash and resistance from the local government, authorities, and people. The state of Mississippi posed a great challenge, however. Nearly 90 percent of the state’s black families lived below the poverty line and only 5 percent of eligible black voters were registered.
This panel shows Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi making an impassioned speech, quoting religion as his defense. He states, “The Good Lord was the original Segregationist. He put the negro in Africa, separated him from all other races” (114). Many debate how someone could use religion as a basis for discrimination and segregation, even when the text states otherwise. This truly shows the impact that Southern Christian philosophy held at that time. This nation was built on the foundation of separation of Church and State, yet the governor, a man of great power, uses his religious views to incite the crowds. He stands tall, confident in his words, as he uses the Lord’s name to validate the injustice he upholds. Even considering this perspective scientifically, our earth was once a supercontinent, connected in all aspects. These divisions occurred naturally as the land divided.
This panel struck me with its accordance to our unit. We spoke about how white southerners used the Bible to justify their unjust actions, yet never seemed to consider the true meaning of the text. How can two people read the same passage and interpret it completely differently? This is a question that may remain unanswered. However, this panel reinforces at least one perspective that aided people in believing in the “inferiority” of the black population. White southerners were firstly persuaded by socio-economic class. When you live in the privilege and luxury of a plantation owner, you must do everything in your power to retain that status. Also having the governor and many powerful people supporting your beliefs only reinforces those prejudices. This panel illustrated in depth how these issues continue to be reinforced through government intervention.