Sept. 19, 1966

Martin Luther King Jr escorts two 7-year-old students, Eva Grace Lemon and Aretha Willis, on their march to integrate schools in Grenada. (Used by permission. Bob Fitch Photography Archive, Stanford Libraries)

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a mass meeting in Grenada, Mississippi, followed by a march. The news came after 300 members of the white community had called for “an end to violence.” 

The next morning, King, along with Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young and folk singer Joan Baez, led African-American students to the newly integrated public school. A week earlier, a white mob had attacked Black students and those escorting them. The battered and bloodied victims escaped to nearby Bellflower Baptist Church. 

After a federal judge ordered troopers to protect the children, FBI agents arrested 13 white men. Despite the order, the harassment of black students continued, and they eventually walked out in protest. Two months later, a federal judge ordered the school system to treat everyone equally regardless of race.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.