1961 Student Strike, Burgland Senior High School
After Burgland high school student Brenda Travis was placed in jail for her participation in a sit-in protest against segregation at the local bus station, her fellow students launched their own protest that ended with 116 young people being assaulted and arrested by the city's all-white police force. Many of the students were arrested while they were praying for justice and racial equality on the steps of the City Hall. Although the younger students were soon released, 76 older students and community members who were also part of the civil rights movement in McComb were held in the County Jail for 40 days. In addition, school officials expelled many of the students who participated in the demonstration.
Backstory and Context
Although the violence against these protesters would help galvanize support for the movement beyond the South, the constant arrests, firings, beatings, and bombings threatened to derail the movement in McComb and other small Southern communities. With the assistance of national organizations and the reluctant intervention of the Department of Justice, however, violent attacks on protesters would also come at a cost for defenders of segregation and white supremacy. After two years of protests, arrests, and increasingly unfavorable media coverage, moderate white leaders and business interests hoped to broker an end to the violence and lawlessness that also resulted in a gradual end to racial segregation.