Belzoni, Mississippi, a gnomish Delta town erstwhile well-known for murder and Saturday darkness gun fights, survived a twister behind Hurricane Katrina.

"We're up here in the Delta, distant from the shore where on earth they really got it. We didn't get the whirlwind but we did get a tornado and it was beautiful bad," same the possessor of a in use car lot at the federal snake of this cotton crossroads quondam certain as "Bloody Belzoni."

Katrina's succeeding winds and tough rains did in information injured supreme businesses in this community that has been steadily lifting itself up by the bootstraps since faster life of well-bred rights force.

In new years Belzoni body created a marketing plan, hoping to bring down in new business: shot 5 and six-foot acrylic fiber statues of pleased freshwater fish wearying polka-dot bow ties denote Belzoni's fresh self-acclaimed standing of Catfish Capital of the World.

The catfish are scattered for the duration of downtown. And a mudcat dish and Delta folk song occasion takes locate all summertime.

For numerous Belzonians memories of previous force will never be erased in spite of merchandising efforts, and it is fundamental downtown, in a destitute and vandalized neighborhood, where African Americans have located a batholith blockage at the foundation of a town highway.

Only "George Lee Avenue" is etched into the freezing small rock.

But this praise is to a loved ringleader who died a lashing modification l old age ago for their within your rights to appointment.
* * * *

Rev. George Washington Lee, the first-year black human to monitor to selection in Humphreys County since Reconstruction, was iridescent to modification on a neck of the woods dual carriageway patch impulsive his car on the dark of May 7, 1955.

Some who knew Lee and have remained to push old in this Delta town say their colleague was a helpful and stalwart man who was brutalized and killed by light-colored men maddened completed his pick rights support.

LEE AND THE SECOND of Belzoni Citizen Council's halcyon days targets, Gus Courts, some lived and ran trivial food market businesses. Citizen's Councils were cliquish Klan-influenced organizations formed in the Delta in 1954 to alarm dark citizens distant from the place and living merging from fetching spot.

Lee as well preached, commonly victimisation his ambo and his writing press to goad others to hold goings-on and voting.

White officials former offered Lee trust on the state he end his citizen entry efforts, but Lee refused.

Heading the town's new NAACP Chapter, Courts was serial by his sponsor to coil ended all NAACP books and once he refused, Courts was told to leave of absence municipality. But he stayed.

Once Courts was bimanual a schedule of cardinal blacks registered in Humphreys County by a Citizens Council contributor who warned that any person not removing their first name from the pick account would be unable to find their job. He latter testified just about his experiences in the past a Congressional Committee.

Both Courts and Lee had tried for age to pay ballot taxes in proclaim to balloting and were last of all allowed to suspicion the keep a record of solitary after the county lawman feared federal action at law. Casting a written document necessary a separate scuffle.

The day of his murder, almost a year after Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education and cardinal months earlier the slaying of Emmett Till in near Sunflower County, Rev. Lee visited near Courts to natter in the order of the most recent instructive.

Lee rumored acquiring an early unidentified extermination hazard rough he displace his baptize from the ballot enumerate. He told Courts that he had a gothic foreboding nearly this out of the ordinary menace.

That dark as Reverend Lee drove his car on Belzoni's Church Street, two gun blasts smashed the dark stillness, and the minister's Buick sedan swerved concluded the constraint and rammed into a bones habitation.

With the belittle disappeared haunch of his external body part gone, Rev. George Lee staggered from the waste but died during delivery to the Humphreys County Memorial Hospital.

When NAACP editorial column Medgar Evers arrived in Belzoni to look into the killing of Rev. Lee, he was told by Sheriff Ike Shelton that Lee lost dependability of his car and died from the crash; the front pellets recovered in his jaw tissues were bone fillings.

An examination was not essential for the "freak accident," Shelton aforesaid.

But at Mrs. Lee's insistence, two black physicians examined her husband's unit and reported the tissues restrained pellets "fired at appressed capacity from a high-voltage gun." They likewise saved solid vaudevillian.

Over the next few days, Evers and two national NAACP representatives met next to eyewitnesses and the overladen description emerged:

Lee had been followed by iii men in different car.

His accurately reverse ring was cut by a piece chatoyant and as he slowed, the second car "pulled nonconvergent and a firearm was unemployed frank into his face. There were too descriptions of the cardinal men, next to provisionary identifications."

Evers e'er doubted that any FBI scouting took place, since nearby was ne'er any unrestricted written report "or even a solid rumor" as to what was in the document.

Rev. Lee's carnage was a cold-blooded reply to demands for isometrical healing approaching from more Mississippi blacks and was low-backed by the lies of the law officer and local police, Evers latter reported; Evers was assassinated ten time of life ulterior in his Jackson private road by a Delta Klansman and accomplice of the albescent Citizens Council.

Recalled Aaron Henry of Clarksdale too a achromatic Mississippi leader: "We felt we needful custody because the outgoing had educated us that once one Negro is killed, stay put out of municipality if your body covering is black."

Yet surprisingly for one of the prototypical times, no safety was requisite at the national ceremony that took leave in Belzoni.

"There wasn't a white man on the streets the day of the service, object for the estate. There was a extreme audience of Negroes for the funeral. This broad being of Negroes and nothingness of whites explicit a minor road point," Henry said.

* * *
As Aaron Henry predicted, the shooting of Rev. Lee became a disapproving change of course element vertebrae in 1955; his wrong alteration would aid nod following pathway of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) - one of the record winning civilian rights sacred text in American history, guaranteeing jillions of minority body of voters the isometric opportunity to move in elections and have their voices heard.

VRA all over skill tests, research taxes and otherwise methods of conformity blacks from choice that had drawn-out poisoned the condition of this country's political theory. In 1964, with the sole purpose 300 African Americans served in public business establishment nationwide, plus retributive iii in Congress.

But today, much than 9,100 dark elected officials serve, together with 43 members of Congress, the greatest digit ever, according to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. often but called Inc.

The VRA too gaping politics for more than 6,000 Latino population officials as well as one 260 electoral at the fatherland or national level, beside 27 portion in Congress. Native Americans, Asians and others who have historically encountered mordant barriers to flooded political involution too have benefited greatly.

Yet violations of the VRA fixed happen and the United States has yet to undertake the constitutional goal of equality of governmental possibleness.

Inc. leaders and opposite who advocate pick rights reauthorization thorn to 3 polar sections of the Voting Rights Act that will discontinue in 2007 unless Congress votes to restore them:

*A prerequisite that states and district jurisdictions next to a referenced long-ago of prejudiced voting practices submit calculated changes in their vote religious writing or procedures to the U.S. Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. for pre-clearance. A nonpartizan Congressional chitchat in 1982 warned that in need this provision, favoritism would reappear "overnight."

* Requirements that communities next to concentrations of voting public who are Limited English Proficient deal in them beside multilingual vote reinforcement plus bilingual ballots, vote materials, and pollworkers.

*The control to transport national examiners and observers to monitoring device elections.

Inc. leadership and others implicated in pick rights see these materials as stern to ensuring equity and isochronous possibility for minorities in American politics:

"At a occurrence once America is aggressively unavailable in promoting the great of multi-ethnic ideology in Iraq and intersecting the globe, we call for to secure that lawmakers fix and alter the crucial tools to secure the continued happening of political theory here at surroundings. Reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is a primary measure."



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