Last month, in the same month America reelected a black man as President, one of the most important organizers of the Civil Rights Movement passed away. His name was Lawrence Guyot, and he died on November 23rd, at the age of 73.
He was not the most famous civil rights leader, but he played a key role in Mississippi in the early ’60s as a local leader in SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and as head of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. He was also beaten severely for over four hours by nine officers when he complained to the Winona, Mississippi, police about their treatment of Fannie Lou Hamer. Hamer had been arrested for entering the white area of the local bus station.
In later years, Guyot became an attorney; moved to Washington, D.C.; and worked to elect Marion Barry as mayor. Of course, Barry was also one of the founders of SNCC.
Guyot continued to organize and promote civil rights and became a mentor to a younger generation of black leaders.
For those of us who know we stand on the shoulders of those who sacrificed for our freedom and opportunity, Lawrence Guyot deserves our thanks.
As he said in 2004, quote: “There’s nothing like having risked your life over something immensely important to you.”
As Churchill said, “There’s nothing more exhilarating than to have been shot at and missed.”
Lawrence Guyot, you will be missed.