This Day in History

Oct. 4, 1961: Burglund High School Walkout

Time Periods: 1961
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements

Source: Associated Press

On August 30, 1961, fifteen-year-old Burglund High School student Brenda Travis along with her classmates, Robert Talbert and Ike Lewis, staged a sit-in at McComb Mississippi’s Greyhound Station. They were arrested and remained in jail until October 3. After they were released, Ike Lewis and Brenda Travis learned that they had been expelled from school.

On October 4, 115 Burglund students walked out in response to the expulsions and the murder of Herbert Lee. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had not organized the walkout and was surprised when they saw students walking on the sidewalk in front of SNCC’s office in downtown McComb.

Some of the SNCC organizers were anxious about the protest but felt they had to support the student action. As Chuck McDew put it years later, “I thought about Gandhi when he saw his people massed for protest. ‘There go our people’ Gandhi said. ‘We have to hurry and catch up with them.’” This description is from the SNCC Digital Gateway. Continue reading about the Burglund High School Walkout.

Learn More About the Burglund Walkout

Freedom Song provides a fictional, but historically accurate, portrayal of the voting rights struggle in McComb, including the student walkout. Produced by and starring Danny Glover, a number of SNCC veterans were consulted on this Hollywood feature film.

“Brave Times at Burglund High” a detailed history of the walkout by David Ray, Jackson Free Press, February, 2014.

Students in the McComb Legacies Project created a documentary film about the walkout for the National History Day competition.

Burglund Walkout from McComb Legacies on Vimeo.