Rev. George Lee
May 7, 1955
Reverend George Lee was one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.
August 13, 1955
After having organized Black voters in a recent election, Lamar Smith was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.
September 25, 1961
Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.
Jimmie Lee Jackson
February 26, 1965
Jimmie Lee Jackson was beaten and shot by state troopers as he tried to protect his grandfather and mother from a trooper attack on civil rights marchers. His death led to the Selma-Montgomery march and the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Jonathan Myrick Daniels
August 20, 1965
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.
Clockwise from top left: Rev. George Lee, Lamar Smith, Herbert Lee, Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Jimmie Lee Jackson.
In 1948, at age 19, Martin Luther King Jr graduated from Morehouse College – an all-male Historically black college (which King’s father and maternal grandfather had attended) with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. King attended classes at Harvard University as an audit student in 1952 and 1953. At the age of 25 in 1954, King became a pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1955 from Boston University.
It is a little-known fact that in the fall of 1961, Martin Luther King taught a college course. His students recalled “an immense amount of reading”. His own handwriting lists the readings King assigned.:
Aristotle’s The Politics
By 1961 Martin Luther King had emerged as the most important voice in the civil rights movement. His choice of “dead white men” for the syllabus of his students, these young budding activists, gives us insight on how King viewed the civil rights movement and the struggles for justice and equality.