This Day in History

June 10, 1966: Ben Chester White Murdered

Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights

Ben Chester White. Source: Southern Poverty Law Center.

On June 10, 1966, Ben Chester White, caretaker on a farm, was brutally murdered by the Klan in Natchez, Mississippi.

White had lived on the same plantation all his life, the same land where his grandparents had been enslaved. He was not involved in the voting rights struggle. Instead, the Klansmen hoped that the killing of White would bring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the area and then they could kill him, too.

Award winning journalist Jerry Mitchell wrote a detailed description of the murder and trials in the Clarion LedgerKKK killed Ben Chester White, hoping to lure & kill MLK.  Mitchell notes that the scheme failed, that the three Klansmen dodged convictions in the 1960s, but one of them, Ernest Avants, was convicted decades later in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison.