i was on the hunt for any local civil rights activity as well as any national/regional civil events that passed through the jackson area. i had a sense of a couple obvious landmarks (though many of them i'd never really researched): the formation of the white citizen's council, the tougaloo nine, the woolworth's sit-in, the freedom riders arriving in jackson, the jackson state shootings, the march against fear, medgar evers' assassination, etc. what i didn't have a sense of was that there was a bona fida jackson movement, albeit short-lived, intense, and rather tragic--in the sense of organizational territory and politics draining local momentum (and in some way foreshadowing bigger meltdowns in the late 60s), and in the sense of the loss of someone as talented as medgar evers in the midst of an internecine maelstrom.
we've got some lingering SNCC and CORE presence in MS.
1961, march: the jackson NAACP youth council protests segregated libraries in jackson. given that they're "the only such group still active in the jackson area and composed mainly of black high school students," and given that direct action isn't usually the NAACP's cup of tea (litigation/legislation and voter registration is) here we've got a local initiative.
1961, may: the SNCC freedom riders come into jackson, refuse to post bail upon arrest, and make the call for more buses to head to mississippi. 328 riders are arrested that summer, and many spend their time in parchman. once they get out of jail,
1962, december: the jackson NAACP youth council form a picket line outside of woolworth's in jackson, and try to initiate a city boycott of downtown merchants. they receive little support from SNCC (now drawn to greenwood), CORE (who feel like the boycott is started without sufficient community organization), and NAACP (again: they don't really do direct action). so, still a local initiative but now we've got some attempted coordination with regional/national organizations.
1963, may: NAACP switches course and makes jackson boycotts a priotity. reasoning: mlk's recent success in birmingham; roy wilkins is worried that jackson will be SCLC's next target. an ultimatum is made to jackson mayor allen thompson, negotiate or else face mass demonstration. after waffling for a bit, the mayor rejects all demands. the next day is the woolworth's sit-in by jackson NAACP youth council and moderator: a three hour, very violent affair. picketing increases dramatically; high school students begin walk outs and marches, with violent police response. we've got momentum, but we've got ulterior motives.
1963, june: increased activism has drawn in staff from national NAACP, but this results in a shift in the movement coordinating committee from an activist, youth-oriented aproach to a more conservative, NAACP/black minister & businessmen-led effort to broker a deal. right when direct action begins to escalate into a snowballing youth movement, mass marches and protests are halted, community momentum is lost, and attendance at nightly meetings declines. june 6: the city of jackson obtains an injunction forbidding further demonstrations. june 8: first day without demonstration or picket line. afterward: a "coalition of national NAACP officials and the traditional middle-class leadership of jackson [agree]... that although the boycott should continue, there [will] be no further mass demonstrations and that the movement should initiate another voter registration drive in the jackson area." june 11, medgar evers assassinated (more below). after his funeral procession, several hundred young people begin singing freedom songs and walking towards capitol street area. they are met with police, and, for the first time, fight back. a riot is only narrowly avoided. june 18, the movement's strategy committee announces a deal struck with mayor thompson, which amounts to a set of concessions previously rejected by black leaders: an agreement to hire six black policemen, a handful of promotions in the sanitation department, and a promise to "continue to hear black grievances." in essence, jackson remains a jim crow city. we've got ideological shifts that cut the legs out from under the movement, which crumbles: taking medgar evers and leaving nominal progress and entrenched segregation.
aftermath: jackson continues as a central headquarters for civil rights organizations in the state, but never again sustains a movement of it's own.we've got a locally initiated movement that gets coopted by national interests, leaving a community in the dust.