Civil Rights Activist Lawrence Guyot Dies

The leader in the Mississippi movement for black rights was 73.

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Lawrence Guyot (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Civil rights activist and lawyer Lawrence Guyot, who worked beside Fannie Lou Hamer and Medgar Evers, passed away on Nov. 23 at his home in Mount Rainier, Md., reports the Washington Post

Born in Pass Christian, Miss., Guyot graduated from Tougaloo College and began working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1962. He was the founding chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which worked to include African-American delegates at the Democratic National Convention. He graduated from Rutgers University law school in 1971 and moved to Washington, D.C. There he was an informal adviser to former Mayor Marion Barry and a program monitor for the D.C. Department of Human Services' Office of Early Childhood Development until his retirement seven years ago.

In one of the bloodiest chapters of the civil rights movement in Mississippi, Mr. Guyot and others, including Fannie Lou Hamer, were arrested by law enforcement officials in 1963. They were severely beaten in a Winona, Miss., jail.

In testimony after the beating, Mr. Guyot said he had gashes on his head, was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and was bruised from his chest to his lower legs. Later, he recalled in a 2007 interview with The Washington Post, he was taken from his cell and shown to a group of white men gathered behind the jail.

"Now you know what he looks like," he said the jailer told the crowd. "You can take care of him whenever you find him" ... 

Dorie Ladner, a D.C. resident who was a civil rights activist in Mississippi at the time, saw Mr. Guyot soon after he, Hamer and others had been released from jail.

"His face looked like a piece of raw steak," Ladner said. "He was convinced that they were going to kill him, but Medgar Evers had been killed that night, and they let him and four women go."

Read more at the Washington Post.

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