HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A new marker honoring more than one dozen African-American residents who filed a historic voting rights lawsuit against Forrest County 70 years ago was unveiled Saturday morning, during the 15th annual Historic Mobile Street Renaissance Festival.
It’s privately funded and it honors the 15 petitioners in the case of Rev. I.C. Peay et al. vs. Luther Cox.
The complaint was filed in April of 1950.
The case was initially dismissed by the U.S. District Court, but it was appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
That court reversed the dismissal and issued a favorable ruling saying that a person could register to vote if he could read, or if unable to read, could interpret a section of the Mississippi Constitution.
“The people in Mississippi tend not to know that these people risked their lives and filed a voting rights lawsuit in 1950, unheard of,” said Glenda Funchess, chairperson of the marker committee. “Anytime they write about voting in Mississippi, they always allude to this case.”
Rev. Isaac C. Peay, who was the lead plaintiff in the case, was the pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Other petitioners included fellow pastors, businessmen, educators, physicians and farmers.