Martyrs Reviewed: Rev. George Lee

Rev. George Lee

The chronology prepared by the SPLC begins in 1955 with the murder of Rev. George Lee. Lee was a member of the NAACP, the operator of aprinting press, and a reverend to a Baptist church in Belzoni, Mississippi. Lee wanted to be the first black person in Humphrey County to vote. No African-American in Humprey had registered to vote since Reconstruction despite the fact that African Americans made up most of the population.

 When Lee went to pay his poll tax he was turned away and he filed a formal complaint. After that he was able to submit his ballot, but after successfully registering his information was printed and spread to local white business men.  This, much like the poll tax, was a form of voter intimidation that often led to black citizens who dared to register to be fired and/or otherwise targeted.

The White Citizens Council became aware of  his involvement with voting registration and at one point Lee was offered protection if he agreed to stop his work for voting rights. Lee refused the offer and on the night of May 7, 1955, Lee was shot in the face as he drove home. The newspapers wrote off his death as a car accident, stating the lead found in his mouth was the result of dental fillings coming out.

According to Alice Mays, a witness to the aftermath of the crime, a white man that lived in the neighborhood came outside during the police investigation and claimed to have seen the gunman. The police officer told him to shut up and go back inside. No one was ever charged with the crime, but the crime was reopened in 2008 as a part of the Emmett Till justice bill which was made to help resolve civil rights cold cases. 


Murder in Black and White : George Lee, dir. Barnard Jafier, perf. Hank Kilbanoff, Al Sharpton (2008).

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Published by greenscenespirit

My name is Kelli Green, and I am a writer. I love being creative and sharing stories.

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