278 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI tried to register to vote. The Citizen was the Council’s national magazine, and similar views were espoused in The Forum, a weekly telecast shown on WLBT-TV in Jackson. The Council’s activities and propaganda successfully reduced the number of African Americans registered to vote in Mississippi in the 1950s. The Council would become known as “The Uptown Klan.” The Council received membership dues and grants from the publicly-funded Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which promoted segregation and investigated civil rights groups and supporters of those groups. The commission had a number of ex-officio advisers including the governor and various legislators. The objective of the commission was to “do and perform any and all acts deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states...from encroachment thereon by the Federal Government or any branch, department or agency thereof.” On March 11, 1958, after buying a bus ticket from Meridian to Jackson, Medgar Evers chose the open seat behind the bus driver. The bus operator ordered Medgar to the back of the bus. Again, Evers refused to move and was ordered off the bus. Police officers were called. They questioned Evers before allowing him back on the bus where he once again chose to sit up front. In route to Jackson, a cab driver flagged down the bus, boarded the bus, and repeatedly struck Evers in the face. In 1959, Luther Jackson, an African American Philadelphia resident, was sitting in his car with a former girlfriend when, according to testimony, police officer Lawrence Rainey pulled Jackson out of the car, took him around to the back and shot him. This killing was considered a lynching to the African Americans of Neshoba County, but a coroner’s jury agreed that Jackson’s death was a case of “justifiable homicide.” Rainey was never charged. During the 1961 Freedom Riders movement, Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett sent a telegram to Attorney General Robert Kennedy saying, “You will do a great disservice to the agitators and the people of the United States if you do not advise the agitators to stay out of Mississippi.” Barnett added: “The people of Mississippi are capable to handling all violations of law and keeping peace in Mississippi.” Freedom Riders were arrested in Jackson in May, 1961. Instead of paying their fine of $200 and accepting a twenty-day suspended sentence, the riders chose to serve out their sentence in jail. Because of the overcrowded jails, Governor Barnett ordered the riders to be sent to Parchman Prison, the maximum-security facility in Sunflower County. The Mississippi Association of Methodist Ministers and Laymen (MAMML), created in the spring of 1955, worked closely with the Citizen’s Council. MAMML criticized the national church and insisted that secession from the denomination was the only option. During the fall of 1962, as African American student James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi, four Methodist ministers in the Mississippi Annual Conference responded to the segregationists saying the teachings of Jesus “[permit] no discrimination because of race, color, or creed.” In that statement, they supported public schools and opposed attempts to close them. Supporters and creators of the statement obtained the signatures of twenty-eight pastors; they were labelled simply “The Twenty-Eight.” The Jasper County Board of Education informed the Sovereignty Commission of the case of Louvenia Knight and her children. Louvenia had submitted application to the West Jasper County School Board for her oldest child to attend the all-white Stringer School. Though Louvenia was listed as “Colored” on her birth certificate, her two sons were listed as “White.” Louvenia’s parents, Otho and Addie Knight, had always been considered “Colored” in Jasper County. Jasper County and Sovereignty Commission officials visited Louvenia and her parents, and they agreed not to make another attempt at that time to register the children at the all-white school. Neither the Sovereignty Commission nor the School Board knew Louvenia was the great-granddaughter of Newton Knight. In late fall 1963, Louvenia Knight again attempted to register her sons, ages eight and nine, at Stringer School in Jasper County. Erle Johnston of Forest, part owner of the Scott County Times, had been appointed Director of Public Relations of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission in 1960 by Governor Barnett. Johnson’s research on the Knight family disclosed that even if the slave and great-grandmother Rachel Knight had been “pure Negro,” that would only make Louvenia’s children 1/16 Negro. If Rachel had been mulatto, that meant the boys were only 1/32 Negro. In either case, under the Mississippi law, Louvenia’s children’s racial make-up did not equal or surpass the “1/8 or more Negro blood” law. Therefore, the boys were legally white. Much was at risk during the Civil Rights Movement, especially the lives of those who dared to participate.