Many Negroes in the state of Mississippi (deep south USA) were unable to register to vote in Tuesday's general election because they failed on qualification tests.
Many Negroes in the state of Mississippi (deep south USA) were unable to register to vote in Tuesday's general election because they failed on qualification tests. To instruct these people for a time when they might become eligible, civil rights workers have been conducting a simulated election in Mississippi.
One of the polling place was the Antioch Baptist Church near the town of Ripley, Mississippi. When Negroes came there to vote Sunday (1 November) in the mock election, they found the church burned to the ground. Another church eight miles away, was burned the same weekend, although it had never been used for civil rights activities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were on the scene Sunday, searching for evidence of arson. With the remains of the church still smouldering, the mock election went ahead as planned.
One of those voting was the local chairman of the Freedom Democratic Party, the group which tried to replace the regular Mississippi Democratic Party delegation to the qualification test for the regulation election.
The two church burnings raise the total of such incidents in Mississippi to 36 this year. Leaders of the mock election say they have been faced with intimidation, including 23 arrest. Most of the arrests were for traffic violations or distributing leaflets with a permit; the Negroes say its is impossible to get a permit.
The four days of the mock election ended Monday night (2 November). Civil rights leaders said it was an effort to give disenfranchised Negroes a chance to express their political views and to form a basis for a possible challenge by the Freedom Democratic Party of Mississippi's Congressional delegation.