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Collection Title: Stoner (Peter) Papers

Collection Number: M168

Dates: 1964, 1998

Volume: 2 items

Provenance: Donated by Dr. Peter Stoner in 1998.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Peter (Pete) Stoner was a self-proclaimed "young radical" from Pennsylvania attending the University of Chicago when he first became aware of the extent of racial injustice in the South. While visiting New Orleans in 1960, Pete noticed racially segregated water fountains at the public library, and was determined to help bring about change.

When the Freedom Riders project began later that year, Pete traveled to Montgomery, Alabama to volunteer himself for the cause. He was sent with fellow Riders by bus to Jackson, Mississippi to participate in local and statewide voter registration projects. The Riders were arrested when they arrived in Jackson, and taken to the state penitentiary at Parchman, where they were incarcerated for an unspecified period of time. After his release, Pete joined with other volunteers to participate in meetings and rallies held at Campbell College, which later became a part of Jackson State College.

Pete remained in Mississippi, and enrolled at Tougaloo Southern Christian College in 1961. He continued to volunteer in civil rights projects and activities sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He attended several meetings in Greenville, Hattiesburg, and Greenwood, where he was arrested and released a second time.

After graduating from Tougaloo in 1963, Pete began working for SNCC as a full-time civil rights worker, and was sent to Hattiesburg in January of 1964. In Hattiesburg, he took part in a massive voter registration drive in Palmer's Crossing and was arrested five times over a five-month period on a variety of misdemeanor charges. While serving a jail term, Pete was placed in a Forrest County work camp for several months, where he performed road construction among other duties. He was also severely beaten by officers and fellow prisoners on more than one occasion.

Despite his experiences, Pete remained in Mississippi. He married and settled in Jackson in 1964, where he still resides. He returned to Hattiesburg to receive both his Master of Science and Doctorate in chemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1979 and 1983, respectively.

Scope and Content:

This collection contains the original and photocopy of a thirteen-page typed document entitled "Report of SNCC Worker Pete Stoner on Experiences in Hattiesburg from January 7 to May 21, 1964." The document gives detailed information about Pete's activities in Hattiesburg, including the dates and reasons for his arrests and jail terms. Also included are the names and positions of local law enforcement and elected/appointed officials. The report lists prisoners with their personalities and background, and emphasizes their reactions to the civil rights struggle. The report also details the beatings that Pete received from officers and fellow prisoners, and his impression of local officials.

The second document in the collection is a nineteen-page memoir by Peter Stoner that recounts his experiences as a civil rights worker in Mississippi during the 1960s, while giving his feelings on the state of democracy and politics. The memoir, entitled "A Glimpse Into the Past: A Few Words About My Civil Rights Days," was written in March of 1998 and documents his participation in civil rights activities. These activities include passing out leaflets, conducting voter registration classes, transporting prospective voters to and from local courthouses and statewide meetings, and participating in a peaceful picket line at the courthouse in Hattiesburg to encourage voter registration and object to voter discrimination. A photograph of Pete Stoner (ca. 1960) is included in the memoir.

Related Collections:

Johnson (Paul B.) Family Papers, M 191 (State Sovereignty Commission Records)

Glass (Jinny) Mississippi Freedom Summer Diary, M 257

Adickes (Sandra E.) Papers, M 322


Created by: Danielle L. Bishop
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Revised: April 23, 2004