336 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI Americans and poor whites who remained in the Delta to earn more and achieve an unprecedented level of economic security and independence. World War II was a transformative experience for African Americans in the Delta. Military service made black Deltans more confident, courageous, and conscious of their rights as Americans. Future civil rights leaders Amzie Moore of Cleveland and Aaron Henry of Clarksdale were just two of the many black Mississippians who returned home determined to challenge white supremacy and Jim Crow. Segregation made no sense to African American veterans who fought for their country just as diligently as white soldiers. Reflecting on his time in a segregated Army unit in the Pacific, Moore failed to see the reasoning in being segregated from a white soldier “whom I might have to save or he save my life.” African Americans pointed out the inconsistencies of fighting for freedom and democracy in Asia and Europe while remaining second-class citizens back home in the segregated Delta. The hypocrisy of American race relations caught the eye of some whites in the Delta as well. Hodding Carter, editor of the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville, was disheartened at his town for refusing to include African American World War II soldiers on the same honor roll as white soldiers. Local whites raised loud objections to the possibility of desegregating a mere list of servicemen. For Carter, this form of Jim Crow put forth a “stench in the nostrils of the fair-minded.” The injustices of Jim Crow continued to dominate everyday life in the Delta, but World War II helped cultivate a new sense of activism among African Americans. Black Freedom Struggle During World War II, Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard moved to Mound Bayou to become the lead surgeon at the Knights and Daughters of Tabor Hospital. The Taborian Knights, a fraternal organization, performed invaluable services of health care and charity to African Americans in the Jim Crow era. Howard became an instant leader and activist through the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), which he founded in 1951. The doctor focused much of his organization’s energy on voter education and registration. In addition, the RCNL contested police brutality and boycotted white businesses known for their unfair treatment of African American customers. The RCNL did not directly challenge segregation in public life, especially not in schools. Howard counseled protégés and rising activists such as Medgar Evers and Amzie Moore that full citizenship rights, political activism, pursuing equal justice through the courts, and promoting African American businesses were the keys to progress. On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court delivered a major victory for civil rights activists. The court heard a series of NAACP-litigated cases and, in its historic ruling Brown v. Board of Education, declared that “separate but equal” schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. Although the court did not establish clear guidelines for the process of desegregating schools, the unanimous decision struck an important blow against Jim Crow in public education. Despite the court’s ruling, Delta schools remained segregated for well over a decade. The most powerful organized resistance to Brown came out of the Delta. In the spring of 1954, Indianola plantation manager Robert Patterson met with several leading members of the Sunflower County business community and together they formed the first of the Citizens’Councils. Vowing to stop the forces of “communism and mongrelization,” Patterson and the Councils became a force to be reckoned with in a short amount of time. The Councils were quick to highlight their differences from the Ku Klux Klan, the most notable anti-African American and anticivil rights organization throughout Southern history. Instead of being populated by poorer working-class whites, Council membership came from the Delta’s business class, planter elite, and most respected citizens. Instead of violence, the Councils used all legal, political, and economic means necessary to prevent desegregation and thwart an emerging civil rights movement. Prominent politicians, such as U.S. Senator James Eastland of Sunflower County and Governor Ross Barnett, trumpeted their membership in the Councils. Eastland became known as the “spiritual leader of Southern resistance to school desegregation” in the Senate. Although they earned tremendous support among Mississippi whites, The Civil Rights Movement in the Delta soon gave rise to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Bob Moses of SNCC came to the Delta in 1960, but he believed that the southwest Mississippi town of McComb appeared to be the best spot for the SNCC’s first grassroots campaign in the state.