The New York Times is reporting that civil rights activist Lawrence Guyot has died. Douglas Martin reports:
“Mr. Guyot (GHEE-ott) was repeatedly challenged, jailed and beaten as he helped lead fellow members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and student volunteers from around the nation in organizing Mississippi blacks to vote. In many of the state’s counties, no blacks were registered.
He further pressed the campaign for greater black participation in politics by serving as chairman of the integrated Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, formed to supplant the all-white state Democratic Party. It lost its challenge to the established Mississippi party at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, but its efforts are seen as paving the way for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
Born in Pass Christian, Mississippi, Guyot is remembered not only for his work with SNCC and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but also for a police beating he suffered when trying to bail out civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer in Winona, Miss. and for his imprisonment at the Mississippi penitentiary, Parchman Farm, one of the most brutal prisons in the country. He was beaten mercilessly, and went on a 17-day hunger strike, in which he lost 100 pounds. Both incidents occurred in 1963. Guyot was also instrumental in helping former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry become the first African-American elected as mayor of the nation’s capital.
Mr. Guyot was a graduate of Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., where he first became involved with SNCC. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, the former Monica Klein; his son, Lawrence III; his daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone and four grandchildren. Mr. Guyot was 73 years-old.
Read more at the New York Times.