The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee came into the Delta in the early 60s. Working with locals, most famously Fannie Lou Hamer of Ruleville (pictured above), they began voting registration work in Sunflower and then Leflore County. Hamer became an eloquent national witness for the movement.
This weekend, there’s a SNCC reunion, and NPR had a story outlining SNCC’s history in the Delta. The story begins:
In the 1960s, a group of student activists headed to the Mississippi Delta to help empower impoverished blacks cowed by the violence and oppression that dominated in the Jim Crow-era South.
“The Delta was the continuation of a feudal system that was a continuation of the aftermath of slavery,” says Lawrence Guyot, who registered black voters in the region during the civil rights era. “That made it a difficult place to convince local blacks to step up. They were a majority of the population but had no political or economic power.”
You can read or listen to the whole thing (which closes with Hamer’s singing) here.