Reverend George Lee
December 25, 1903
May 7, 1955
Age at Death:
Reverend George Lee was raised in Edwards, Mississippi by his aunt, following the passing of his mother who was an illiterate plantation woman. Lee graduated high school, which was rare for a southern black man, and went on to work in Belzoni, Mississippi as a preacher. Belzoni had a lot of poverty, so Lee worked hard to better himself. He was a minister at four separate churches, owned a convenience store, and operated a printing company out of the house with his wife, Rosebud. In recent memory, Lee was the first black person to register to vote in Humphreys County. After that, he and a friend, Gus Courts, co-founded a local NAACP chapter.
On May 7th, 1955, Lee was shot 3 times and passed away, following an iconic speech at the Reginal Council of Negro Leadership convention. Lee’s funeral was a media event for black newspapers and was important in spurring on action in the civil rights movement. His wife, Rosebud held an open-casket coffin ceremony so that people could see how mutilated Lee's body was. Rosebud's decision to reveal the violence against her husband to the world would help spark the civil rights and voting rights movements.
Was justice served?
Civil rights groups continued a hunt for clues that would lead them to Lee's murderers, but the FBI investigation stopped because possible witnesses were reluctant to speak out. Lee's assassination was never prosecuted.