When Mississippi tried to silence Black mayor, People’s World was there
The May 6, 1982 edition of Daily World featured a story by then cub reporter John Wojcik on the racist frameup of Tchula, Miss. Mayor Eddie Carthan. The old white planter class in Mississippi went all out to remove Carthan after the people of Tchula put him in office. The Daily World, today called People's World, was one of the few outlets to cover the struggle. | People's World Archives

As a young reporter back in the early 1980s, I stayed for weeks at a time in the Mississippi Delta covering the story of the first African-American mayor elected in that state since Reconstruction.

But it’s not to the Tchula, Mississippi town hall that I frequently went to meet with him. I went instead to the Holmes County Jail where he was locked up on false murder charges. The plantation owners were not going to settle for a Black man as the mayor of one of their towns.

The Daily World sent me there in keeping with its role as literally the first national newspaper to emphasize the political importance of Black representation in public office, and I covered what grew into a nationwide and eventually successful struggle to free Mayor Eddie Carthan.

While in Mississippi, I reported on the struggle of an entire Delta town to haul water from surrounding communities because vicious white supremacist landlords succeeded in turning off their water supply to squeeze more money out of them.

I joined reporters from the Jackson Advocate, the storied African-American newspaper, to take pictures at night of Jackson, Mississippi cops actively organizing the prostitution ring in that city.

I reported on how the folks at the Ronald Reagan election headquarters in Jackson were the same people who had donned KKK robes at a voter intimidation rally at the Jackson City Hall a week earlier.

Needless to say, there were forces not happy with all that truth-telling.

As I typed up one of these stories at a desk the staff of the Jackson Advocate had turned over to me, a racist gang of thugs hurled bricks through the storefront window, narrowly missing some of us at our desks.

Getting out the truth in those days was dangerous. Getting out the truth today can also be dangerous.

I knew, after those assignments in Mississippi, however, that I wanted to stick with the Daily World for the rest of my life, and today, 40 years later, I’m here—not as a cub reporter but as editor-in-chief of People’s World, the modern iteration of the Daily World and the Daily Worker before it.

I’ve only been able to realize my dream, and the People’s World is only around today because of you.

We have no corporate backers. Our backers are our readers, members of the great big multi-racial, multi-national working class in this country, and all of its allies.

We gave voice to the seasonal plantation workers in the Delta who dared to quit their jobs and become construction workers at project sites started by Mayor Carthan. We gave voice to those workers who the plantation owners wanted back in the fields. We gave voice to those workers who won their battle to free their mayor and keep the jobs that gave them the dignity denied to them on the plantations.

We, with your support, gave voice to them because they were saying “no” to racists who wanted them to stop building daycare centers and schools and return to picking cotton.

Big corporations and institutions that you and I thought would last forever have come and gone, but People’s World remains.

It’s a testimony not just to a staff and volunteers ready to risk personal health and safety to bring out the truth but to you, our readers and supporters, who have never failed to step forward.

In this time of pandemic and depression, we need you more than ever. Please give whatever you can to keep the powerful relationship between us and you continuing.

That powerful relationship just helped win a people’s victory we can all celebrate, but now we have to keep that relationship going to preserve and extend that victory.

You have the power to keep a great thing, People’s World, going. As you have in the past, you have the power to win many victories long into the future.

In solidarity,

John Wojcik

Editor in Chief


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR