Herbert Lee helped register Black voters, was killed in broad daylight by state legislator E. H. Hurst in Mississippi

By greatbritton


Herbert Lee helped register Black voters, was killed in broad daylight by state legislator E. H. Hurst in Liberty, Mississippi On Sept. 25, 1961,

Herbert Lee, a farmer who worked for voting rights to help register Black voters was killed in broad daylight by state legislator E. H. Hurst in Liberty, Mississippi on Sept. 25, 1961

According to SNCC Digital Gateway:

In the majority-Black Amite County, only one Black person was registered to vote. It was the most Klan-ridden county in the state, and only a handful of people were willing to participate in the effort to gain voting rights. Nonetheless, as a few people began trickling into voting school Moses organized in the tiny church on Steptoe’s property, an alarmed white community began threatening reprisal and violence.

Herbert Lee was one of the first victims. On September 25th, 1961, Lee arrived at the Westbrook cotton gin outside the town of Liberty with a full load of cotton in his truck. There he was confronted by E. H. Hurst, a member of the Mississippi state legislature. Hurst and Lee, who had been boyhood friends, had been arguing over Lee’s involvement with SNCC. Hurst called him over, and in front of more than a dozen witnesses, Hurst shot Lee in the head, killing him.

The day after Lee’s death, a coroner’s inquest was held, and the witnesses all declared that Lee had threatened Hurst with a tire iron. The two Black witnesses, Louis Allen and a local reverend, confirmed Hurst’s version of events, ending the inquest. Allen later reached out to Moses and Steptoe to tell them that the testimony he gave at the inquest was false. As he later told John Doar at the Department of Justice, the courtroom had been packed with armed men, and he was afraid for his family if he revealed the truth. Allen confessed that Lee had asked Hurst to put the gun down and that Hurst had shot him without provocation. When the local authorities got wind of Allen’s confession, he quickly recanted but nonetheless, began to receive death threats. In early 1964, he made plans to leave the state with his family, but was found murdered just outside his property early one morning.

Sources:  SNCC Digital

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