Black History | Herbert Lee | NAACP member killed for registering voters

Herbert LeeHerbert Lee was a 42 year old a dairy farmer and father of nine children in Amite County. He had been a member of the NAACP since the early 1950s. When SNCC voting rights activists started working in Amite and Pike counties in the fall of 1961, Lee, a close friend of the Amite County NAACP branch chairman E.W. Steptoe, became involved, helping to transport the workers and orient them to the locale. In mid-September, Assistant United States Attorney John Doar and others from the Justice Department interviewed several persons in Amite County about infringements of the voting laws. They learned that one E.H. Hurst, a member of the Mississippi state legislature, had been threatening to harm activists in Amite, including Herbert Lee.

eh hurstOn the morning of September 25, E.H. Hurst ran into Herbert Lee at a cotton gin. Lee, who grew up with Hurst, was arriving while Hurst was departing. Hurst cornered Lee on the side of Lee’s pickup truck and shot him dead in front of about a dozen witnesses. Lee’s body remained next to his truck while the sheriff quickly organized a coroner’s jury. Several black witnesses, including Louis Allen, fearing for their own lives, lied to the coroner’s jury and testified that Lee, a small man, threatened Hurst, who stood 6 feet 3 and weighed about 200 pounds, with a tire iron. On the day Lee was slain, the coroner’s jury concluded Hurst shot in self-defense.

Legal Status

After the coroner’s jury ruled the homicide justifiable, there were no further legal proceedings in the Lee murder. However, one witness, Louis Allen, later told FBI investigators that he had been forced to lie to the coroner’s jury. Allen endured beatings and harassment immediately after he came forward to the FBI and, on January 31, 1964, he too was killed in Amite County. There have been no arrests in the Allen murder.

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27 Responses to Black History | Herbert Lee | NAACP member killed for registering voters

  1. rikyrah says:

    we need to continue to shine the light on these ‘cold cases’.

  2. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Photographs of the martyred:

  3. Herbert Lee left behind 9 children. Murdered in cold blood and no one was arrested. All the murderer had to say…it was self defense.

  4. yahtzeebutterfly says:
    “Kimberly Robinson touches her grandfather’s name, Herbert Lee, on the Memorial during the 1989 dedication.”

  5. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Photo of Herbert Lee with his wife in 1962:

    • yahtzeebutterfly says:

      Photo of Louis Allen, who, because he was a witness to the killing of Herbert Lee, experienced years threats, harassment including being jailed multiple times:

      On January 31, 1964 when he was making arrangements to move north, he was murdered.

      • They killed him too because he told the FBI the truth. So the FBI leaked his statements?

      • yahtzeebutterfly says:

        I think so…..

        Following is an excerpt from the wikipedia article about Allen being a witness to Herbert Lee’s murder. He had not cooperated with the Justice Department because the FBI would not offer him witness protection.

        Although Allen had not cooperated with the Justice Department, rumors of his visit in Jackson quickly spread amongst Liberty’s white community. Local whites blackballed Allen and cut off customers for his logging business. In August 1962, as Allen and two other black men tried to register to vote at Amite County Courthouse, they were shot at by an unknown assailant.</strong

        Following this incident, a white businessman threatened Allen, saying, "Louis, the best thing you can do is leave. Your little family—they're innocent people—and your house could get burned down. All of you could get killed." When Allen reported the death threats, the FBI – which had limited jurisdiction over civil rights cases at the time – referred the matter to the Amite County sheriff's office. The FBI did so despite an agent acknowledging in a 1961 memo that, "Allen was to be killed and the local sheriff was involved in the plot to kill him."

        Allen allegedly became a target of harassment by Amite County Sheriff Daniel Jones. In a later interview, Allen's son, Hank, described Jones as "mean", recounting how Jones arrested his father on trumped-up charges and beat him outside his home. On one such occasion in September 1962, Jones brokes Allen's jawbone with a flashlight. Moses wrote to Assistant Attorney General John Doar about Allen: "They're after him in Amite [County]," it [the letter] says, and makes reference to "a plot by the sheriff and seven other men." Jones' father was a high-ranking "Exalted Cyclops" in Liberty's chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. FBI documentation from the 1960s claimed that Daniel Jones was also a Klan member.

        When he got out of jail, Allen filed an assault complaint with the FBI against Jones. Among Allen's associates was Leo McKnight, who had worked with him and twice tried to register to vote with him. In February 1963 McKnight and his family: wife, pregnant daughter, and son-in-law, died in a suspicious fire at their house. Blacks believe they were murdered. In November 1963, Jones arrested Allen again, falsely charging him for bouncing a check and having a concealed weapon. Law enforcement officials threatened him with 3 to 5 years in the penitentiary; after three weeks, the NAACP raised the bail for him.

        Allen’s mother died and, in January 1964 Allen arranged to leave Liberty and move in with his brother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as he feared for his life. On January 31, 1964, the night before his planned departure, Allen was ambushed at the cattle grid at the border of his property. He was killed by two shotgun blasts to the head. His body was found by his son Henry (called Hank).

        Interviewed by CBS 60 Minutes in 2011, Hank Allen said, “He [Sheriff Daniel Jones] told my mom that if Louis had just shut his mouth, that he wouldn’t be layin’ there on the ground. He wouldn’t be dead.”

    • yahtzeebutterfly says:

      Correct date of photo of Herbert Lee with his wife is Sept. 25, 1961.

  6. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    Civil Rights Memorial, Montgomery ALABAMA
    “Published on Apr 5, 2013 by Constantinos IsaiasThe Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama is dedicated to 40 people who died in the struggle for the equal and integrated treatment of all people, regardless of race, during the Civil Rights Movement. The names included belong to those who died between 1954 – 1968, because in 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unlawful and 1968 is the year of Martin Luther King’s assassination. The memorial was dedicated in 1989.

    The concept of Maya Lin’s design is based on the soothing and healing effect of water. It was inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s paraphrase “… we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. …”, from the “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. The memorial is a fountain in the form of a round stone inverted cone.

    A film of water flows over the base of the cone, which contains the 40 names included. It is possible to touch the smooth film of water and temporarily alter the surface film, which quickly returns to smoothness. As such, the memorial represents the aspirations of the American civil rights movement against racism.”

  7. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    “Freedom Never Dies – The Legacy of Harry T. Moore”
    “Harry T. Moore paved the way for the 60s civil rights movement by championing equal pay for black teachers, organizing the black vote and publicly condemning racist attitudes and actions of local, state and national officials.”

  8. yahtzeebutterfly says:

    May we remember the sacrifices of Herbert Lee and all who lost their lives through their civil rights advocacy, efforts, and missions. May God forever bless their souls.

    “Civil Rights Martyrs 1955 to 1968”
    “Uploaded on Nov 25, 2011 by P. Hinds
    They died for the belief that Blacks and Whites could enjoy the American Dream as equals.
    They are gone now, but certainly not forgotten.”

  9. Ametia says:

    A history of evil, racism, and violence that will never be buried.

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