—Mississippi Freedom Trail —
In 1960 Rust College students, under the leadership of President E. A. Smith, boycotted the segregated HollyTheater, a protest that in 1962 evolved into a Rust chapter of the NAACP. The chapter offices were installed by Medgar Evers, NAACP field secretary. Members founded a Speakers Bureau, fostering voter education/registration, and in 1962 the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee became active on the campus. In 1963 students were active in the Freedom Vote and later the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Founded in 1866
under the direction of the Freedom Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Rust College sought as part of its mission to educate emancipated slaves. Since that time the college has held to that principle: to give African American students a solid foundation for their futures in business, law, medicine, education, and other mainstream careers.
As the civil rights movement began in earnest during the 1960s, Rust College president E. A. Smith set an example for activism. Students including later activist Willie Peacock, McLemore and other members of the NAACP boycotted the segregated Holly Theater, a protest that in 1962 evolved into an NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Youth Chapter
at Rust. In ceremonies on March 12, 1962, NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers installed its officers.
In 1962 five Rust College students made a historic visit to the University of Mississippi to hear newscaster Howard K. Smith speak. They were the first black students on the campus since the graduation of James Meredith earlier that year. The students were Raymond Davis, Walter Evans, Leslie Burl McLemore, John Clinton Morris, and William Delano Scott III.
Also in 1962 SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee) became active at Rust, as SNCC field secretary Frank Smith, while living on the Rust College campus, recruited students from both Rust and Mississippi Industrial College. Students formed a Speakers Bureau, visiting rural churches and community centers in Holly Springs and its surrounding area to foster voter registration/education during the Freedom Vote campaign. Students active in the Speakers Bureau included Johnnie Harris, Rose Purdy, Tina Evans Scott, and William Scott. Rust College students were active in the MDFP (Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party) protest at the State Capitol in Jackson.
In 1965 and following years, Rust College President Dr. W. A. McMillan, college administrator Johnny Jackson and others began to integrate public restaurants in Holly Springs. Faculty and students integrated local clinics, doctors' waiting
rooms, and the bus terminal.