Negro Bucks and White Hoodlums

In the iconic 1963 photo shown above, a young Tougaloo College lecturer and two of his students defiantly stage a sit-in at a whites-only Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi whilst surrounded by disapproving onlookers. All three are covered in sugar, salt, mustard and their own blood. In the middle, head turned, is Joan Trumpauer Mulholland (nee Trumpower), at the time one of just two white students at the predominantly black college and already a seasoned civil rights activist. Two years previous, Joan had been arrested at a train station as a Freedom Rider and imprisoned for two months. Below is a letter sent to her mother by the jail’s condemnatory superintendent.

Read more about the photo at the website of Hunter Gray, the admirably calm, slop-covered gentleman seen in the photo.

Transcript follows.

(Source: Breach of Peace.)


Mississippi State Penitentiary



Mrs. Merle Nelson
5150 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington 5, Virginia

Dear Mrs. Nelson:

I have your letter in regard to your daughter Joan Trumpower.

If there is any medicine that you want her to have, if you will send it we will see that she gets it.

Your daughter is receiving plenty of food, has been provided with a tooth brush, tooth paste and whatever else she actually needs.

I notice that you state that as a mother of a minor that you want to be notified in case of any emergency. What I cannot understand is why as a mother you permitted a minor white girl to gang up with a bunch of negro bucks and white hoodlums to ramble over this country with the express purpose of violating the laws of certain states and attempting to incite acts of violence.

If you are concerned enough, you could post bond for your daughter and have her released. Such action will have to be taken up with the Sheriff of Hinds County, Jackson, Mississippi.

Very truly,

(Signed, ‘Fred Jones’)

Fred Jones, Superintendent