2000 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Simmons, Jordan, Horhn
Senate Resolution 63
A RESOLUTION TO COMMEND THE LIFE OF SAM BLOCK, AND TO EXTEND THE SYMPATHY OF THE LEGISLATURE TO HIS FAMILY UPON HIS PASSING.
WHEREAS, Sam Block rejected the racially segregated norm of the 1950's and embraced the fledgling civil rights movement, a dangerous and defiant act for a black Southerner at that time; and
WHEREAS, he began to work in the movement under his mentor in Cleveland, Amzie Moore, who convinced him to go to work full time for a new civil rights organization, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and
WHEREAS, he enrolled at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena in 1961, but was expelled for civil rights activity, and that same year received his first SNCC assignment: Greenwood, home of the White Citizen's Council; and
WHEREAS, in Greenwood, Block began efforts to organize the black community, focusing primarily on voter registration; and
WHEREAS, with no transportation other than his own two feet, he walked the African-American community in search of citizens who would get involved in the movement; and
WHEREAS, his efforts placed him in direct conflict with white Delta citizens who were dedicated to the preservation of the status quo; and
WHEREAS, over the next two years, Sam Block faced one challenge after another, often sleeping in cars in order not to endanger the lives of anyone who dared to house him; and
WHEREAS, he received death threats and beatings and was jailed for trumped-up offenses; and
WHEREAS, in spite of the personal danger, Block continued his work, leading efforts to bring food to Leflore County to distribute to poor people; and
WHEREAS, he subsequently left Mississippi, moving to California to establish residence in Los Angeles where he remained active in civil rights, fund-raising and giving speeches around the country, and never giving up hope that one day his native Mississippi would change and embrace all citizens regardless of race; and
WHEREAS, the life's work of Sam Block to attempt to create a society where equal opportunity exists for all races has had a direct effect on our country, and because of men and women like Sam Block, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and the election of men and women of color to public office is now a common and unremarkable event; and
WHEREAS, Mississippi is now a better place today because of Sam Block and the men and women who worked with him to right racial injustice, often at great cost of physical and emotional suffering, or even death; and
WHEREAS, Sam Block died April 13, 2000, at the age of 60 in Los Angeles:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MISSISSIPPI STATE SENATE, That we do hereby take this opportunity to mourn the passing of one of the great civil rights workers and leaders, Sam Block, to commend his life and the work to which he devoted his life, to pay tribute to his courage, and to memorialize a remarkable man and celebrate victory over a dark side of our racial past.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution be presented to his sister, Margaret, and to the Capitol Press Corps.