Count Them One by One: Black Mississippians Fighting for the Right to Vote

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University Press of Mississippi, 2010 - History - 272 pages
In 1961, Forrest County, Mississippi, became a focal point of the civil rights movement when the United States Justice Department filed a lawsuit against voting registrar Theron Lynd. While 30 percent of the county's residents were black, only twelve African Americans were on its voting rolls. United States v. Lynd was the first trial that resulted in the conviction of a southern registrar for contempt of court. The case served as a model for other challenges to voter discrimination in the South and was an important influence in shaping the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Count Them One by One is a comprehensive account of the groundbreaking case written by one of the Justice Department's trial attorneys. Gordon A. Martin, Jr., then a newly minted lawyer, traveled to Hattiesburg from Washington to help shape the federal case against Lynd. He met with and prepared the government's sixteen courageous black witnesses who had been refused registration, found white witnesses, and was one of the lawyers during the trial.

Decades later, Martin returned to Mississippi to find these men and women whom he had never forgotten. He interviewed the still-living witnesses, their children, and friends. Martin intertwines these current reflections with vivid commentary about the case itself. The result is an impassioned, cogent fusion of reportage, oral history, and memoir about a trial that fundamentally reshaped the South.

Praise for Count Them One by One

"Count Them One by One does a marvelous job of documenting a truly historic expansion of democracy in Mississippi. It is alive with real flesh-and-blood characters. As a true-life, unheralded drama, the case played a critical role in the ultimate gaining of the right to vote for African Americans in deepest Dixie. The author and narrator, Judge Gordon Martin, was a central participant who has created a priceless archive of the Hattiesburg experience. This is at once an expertly informed legal history and a gripping American morality play"ýRev. Jack Mendelsohn, author of The Martyrs: Sixteen Who Gave Their Lives for Racial Justice and an advisor to Eyes on the Prize

"Judge Martin's insightful work goes where no one has gone before in telling the story of the voting rights struggle in Mississippi. His documented, eyewitness account sheds new light on the final days of segregation and the last gasps of an unjust legal system. As one among a handful of black students who entered the University of Mississippi in the late 1960s, I have more than a passing interest in civil rights history and the fruits of the judge's scholarship. This book is long overdue"ýBurnis R. Morris, Carter G. Woodson Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications, Marshall University

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About the author (2010)

A former First Assistant United States Attorney and urban trial judge, Gordon A. Martin, Jr., is adjunct professor of law at New England Law Boston. His work has been published in Boston's newspapers, the Globe and the Herald, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, various law reviews, and other periodicals.