Inspired by efforts of the local NAACP (led by CC Bryant), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Pike County Non-Violent Action Movement (with leadership of Hollis Watkins and Curtis Hayes), several young people conducted sit-ins at Woolworth’s and at the Greyhound Bus terminal in the summer of 1961. Among them was Brenda Travis, a fifteen-year-old McComb high school student. Following her sentencing to the state juvenile prison, she was also expelled from Burglund High School.
On October 4, 1961, more than 100 students walked out of Burglund to protest the expulsion of Brenda Travis and other local injustices. When they knelt in prayer at City Hall, they were arrested. So were the SNCC staff (Bob Moses, Chuck McDew, and Bob Zellner) who later were charged with “contributing to the delinquency of minors,” a serious felony.
Many of the students refused to sign a mandatory pledge that they would not participate in civil rights activity and faced expulsion from the segregated Burglund High School. This was the first mass student-led movement in the state of Mississippi.
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