John Salter Jr., demonstrator in 1963 Mississippi lunch-counter sit-in and professor, dies at 84Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, civil rights, protests
When John Salter Jr. arrived in Mississippi in 1961, he was 27 and had already served in the Army, worked as a labor organizer in Arizona, received a master’s degree in sociology and taught at a college in Wisconsin. He was taking a new job as a professor at Tougaloo College, a historically black institution a few miles outside the state capital of Jackson.
Mr. Salter did much more than teach at Tougaloo. He became a close associate of Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary, and helped organize what became known as the Jackson Movement.
Mr. Salter, who later changed his name to John Hunter Gray to honor his American Indian heritage, was perceived as white at the time.
Mr. Salter — as he was known throughout his career as an activist and academic — died Jan. 7 at his home in Pocatello, Idaho, at age 84. He had recovered from systemic lupus, said a son, John Salter III, who could not cite a specific cause of death.
In Mississippi, the home of Mr. Salter and his wife became an informal headquarters for civil rights activists.
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