Born January 15, 1917 in Tylertown, Mississippi
Social activist and civil rights leader;
instrumental in desegregating Mississippi
facilities, as well as the “Freedom Summer”
Mississippi black voter education and
Social activist and civil rights leader, C.C.
Bryant is best known for his contributions
to the Civil Rights and voter registration
movements. He was instrumental in
desegregating schools, hospitals and public facilities in McComb, Mississippi and has remained a courageous advocate for civil rights and social justice.
Born January 15, 1917 in Tylertown, Mississippi, Bryant was the fourth of eleven children born to parents Monroe and Anna Bryant. He grew up in a small town in the Jim Crow South and attended the Prentiss Normal and Industrial Institute. Bryant worked as a crane operator for the Illinois Central Railroad, was a third degree mason, and served as president of the local railroad union. To supplement his family’s income, Bryant also opened a barber shop where he cut hair on weekends.
Photo by Marc-Yves Regis
Bryant’s commitment to the social and economical advancement of African Americans led him to join the NAACP, and in 1954 he was elected president of the Mississippi Pike County branch. As president, Bryant increased the branch membership by fifty percent and eventually served as vice president of the NAACP Mississippi State branch under field secretary, Medgar Evers. In 1961, Bryant invited SNCC field secretary, Bob Moses
to stay at his home and the two organized a voter education program for African Americans. This project helped educate black Americans about the voting process and the tactics used by authorities to disenfranchise black voters. Later that summer, students at the McCombs Burgland High School, under the direction of SNCC, staged a walkout demonstration. One hundred and sixteen of the students were jailed, and Bryant was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors. Although the 1961 McComb Mississippi campaigns did not lead to immediate success, Moses would use the experiences learned in McComb three years later during the famous Freedom Summer campaign which focused national attention on the racial crisis in the South. During Freedom Summer, Mccomb would become known as “the bombing capital,” and in response to Bryant’s affiliation with the NAACP, his barbershop and churched were bombed by the Ku Klux Klan.
Since his early role in the Civil Rights movement, Bryant has remained committed to the fight for justice and equality. In 1965, Bryant testified before the Civil Rights Commission to eliminate discriminatory voting practices. Bryant’s testimony, along with numerous other civil rights leaders, helped pave the way for President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Five years later, Bryant, working in conjunction with the NAACP, won a class action suit that created equal employment opportunities for minorities in the railroad industry and helped desegregate public facilities, schools and the hospital in McComb Mississippi. Bryant established the Southwest Mississippi Headstart Program and the Southwest Mississippi Opportunity, Inc. Bryant continues his legacy of social justice by maintaining an extensive Civil Rights archive collection, and he currently serves on the advisory committee of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Bryant has received numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious Medgar Evers medallion, and in 2001 Senate Resolution 51 was passed recognizing Bryant’s commendable career in Civil Rights activism. Bryant and his wife, Emogene Gooden, have two children, Gladys and Curtis Jr.
*Content for Mr. Bryant’s biography provided by Judith B. Roberts.
Robert Moses' Visionary Page
URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/bryantcc