Spirit of movement lives with children

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 19, 2007


HAYNEVILLE &045; The children of black families kicked out of their homes by angry landlords in 1965 for registering to vote, are being remembered 42 years later at Christmas.

Those children of sharecroppers and tenant farmers spent two Christmases in makeshift homes. They had no place else to go.

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More than half of the county’s black residents were living in poverty in 1965. They lived in unfit shacks owned by plantation owners.

Smiley said they were commemorating that unity shown after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In December of that year, as blacks registered in Lowndes County, the tents went up. The temporary shelters that became known as Tent City remained for about two years.

After the wave of evictions hit, the Lowndes County Christian Movement for Human Rights, Committee and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee worked to keep families together. The Lowndes County Christian Movement purchased six acres and with the help of SNCC and local volunteers erected canvas tents, set up cots and installed stove heaters for its first occupants in December 1965.

The National Park Service sponsors the Lowndes Interpretive Center. It is along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. The students of Jackson Steele Elementary School developed Remembering the Children of Tent City, an exhibit on display at the Center during the holiday season.