Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote
Univ. Press of Mississippi
On Sale: September 27, 2010
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Forrest County, Mississippi, became a focal point of the
civil rights movement when, in 1961, the United States
Justice Department filed a lawsuit against its voting
registrar Theron Lynd. While thirty percent of the county's
residents were black, only twelve black persons were on its
voting rolls. United States v. Lynd was the first trial that
resulted in the conviction of a southern registrar for
contempt of court. The case served as a model for other
challenges to voter discrimination in the South, and was an
important influence in shaping the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Count Them One by One is a comprehensive account of the
groundbreaking case written by one of the Justice
Department's trial attorneys. Gordon A. Martin, Jr., then a
newly-minted lawyer, traveled to Hattiesburg from Washington
to help shape the federal case against Lynd. He met with and
prepared the government's sixteen black witnesses who had
been refused registration, found white witnesses, and was
one of the lawyers during the trial.
Decades later, Martin returned to Mississippi and
interviewed the still-living witnesses, their children, and
friends. Martin intertwines these current reflections with
commentary about the case itself. The result is an
impassioned, cogent fusion of reportage, oral history, and
memoir about a trial that fundamentally reshaped liberty and
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