- Vernon Dahmer
Infobox revolution biography
name = Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer|
dateofbirth = birth date|1908|3|10|mf=y
placeofbirth = Kelly Settlement,
Forrest County, Mississippi, USA
dateofdeath = death date and age|1966|1|11|1908|3|10
placeofdeath = Hattiesburg,
caption = Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, Sr.
alternate name =
Four sons - one named Dennis.
movement = African-American Civil Rights Movement
Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, Sr. (
March 10, 1908- January 11, 1966) was a civil rightsleader and president of the Forrest Countychapter of the NAACP, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer was born March 10, 1908, to George and Ellen Dahmer of Forrest County, Mississippi. He attended Bay Spring High School.
March1952 Dahmer married Ellie Jewell Davis, a teacherfrom Rose Hill, Mississippi. Vernon and Ellie had eight children in their family, including their daughter Bettie and son Dennis. The family home in north Forrest County was part of the Kelly Settlement area. Ellie Dahmer also taught for many years in Richton, Mississippiand retiredin 1987 from the Forrest County schoolsystem.
Dahmer was a member of Shady Grove Baptist Church where he served as
musicdirector and Sunday School teacher. A successful businessman, he was the ownerof a store, a sawmill, a planing mill, and a convert|200|acre|km2|sing=on farm; he also farmed commercially with 300 additional acres planted in cotton.
Dahmer served several terms as president of the Forrest County Chapter of the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), and led voter registration drives in the 1960s. He kept a voter registration bookin his store in late 1965 to make it easier for African Americans to register. Dahmer also helped the local African-American population pay a poll taxfor the right to vote. His mantra was, "If you don't vote, you don't count," and those words, which he repeated on his deathbed, were used as his epitaph. [ [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=17694683 Vernon Dahmer's epitaph] . From: findagrave.com. Retrieved November 5, 2007.]
The crime and suspects
On the night of
January 10, 1966, the Dahmer home was firebombed. As Dahmer's wifeand childrenescaped the inferno, gunshots were fired and Vernon returned fire from within the house. He was severely burned about the head, face, arms, and upper bodybefore he could escape. His 10-year-old daughter, Bettie, also suffered painful burns. The Dahmer home, grocery store, and car were destroyed. Dahmer died on January 11, 1966, from the effect of burns in his respiratory tract.
The Hattiesburg area was stunned by the attack. The Chamber of Commerce under William Carey College President Dr. Ralph Noonkester led a community effort to rebuild the Dahmer home. Local and state businesses such as the Masonite Corporation, Alexander Materials, and Frierson Building Materials donated materials, local
unionsdonated their services, and students from the University of Southern Mississippivolunteered unskilled labor.
Authorities indicted fourteen men, most with Ku Klux Klan connections, for the attack on the Dahmer home. Thirteen were brought to trial, eight on charges of
arsonand murder. Four were convicted and one entered a guilty plea. In addition, eleven of the defendants were tried on federal charges of conspiracy to intimidate Dahmer because of his civil rightsactivities. Former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers, who was believed to have ordered the murder, was tried four times, but each trial ended in a mistrial. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1998/08/19/wkkk19.html Philip Delves Broughton , "Mississippi faces past in Klan trial", "The London Telegraph", August 19, 1998] , Retrieved 23 Oct 2007] . Based on new evidence, the state of Mississippi reopened the case and in 1998 tried Sam Bowers for the murder of Dahmer and assault on his family. The jury convicted Bowers and the judge sentenced him to life. He died in prisonon November 5, 2006. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1998/08/19/wkkk19.html Philip Delves Broughton , "Mississippi faces past in Klan trial", "The London Telegraph", August 19, 1998] , Retrieved 23 Oct 2007] .
Honors and recognition
Since Vernon Dahmer's death, a street and a park in Hattiesburg were named in his honor. On
July 26, 1986, a memorial was dedicated at the park in honor of Dahmer.
February 3, 2007, Dahmer was posthumouslyhonored for his heroic contributions to the Civil Rights Movement at a celebration announcing the Vernon Dahmer Collection at William Carey Universityin Hattiesburg. The collection was funded in part by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council.
* [http://gbgm-umc.org/response/articles/dahmer.html Sandra Peters, "32 Years to Justice", United Methodist Church Global Board Ministries]
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1998/08/19/wkkk19.html Mississippi faces past in Klan trial by Philip Delves Broughton in Hattiesburg] . The London Telegraph (August 19, 1998). Retrieved October 23, 2007.
* [http://mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents/er/moncrief/image.php?keyword=Dahmer,+Vernon+Ferdinand,+1908-1966&display=search Photographs of the events following Vernon Dahmer's murder] Moncrief Photograph Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
* [http://www.lib.usm.edu/~archives/m250.htm?m250text.htm~mainFrame Dahmer (Vernon F.) Collection] - University of Southern Mississippi
* [http://anna.lib.usm.edu/~spcol/crda/oh/ohdahmerep.html Oral history with Mrs. Ellie J. Dahmer] - University of Southern Mississippi
* [http://www.wmcarey.edu/asp/viewpr.asp?item=357 WCU to celebrate Civil Rights activist Vernon Dahmer with literature collection]
* [http://www.fbi.gov/page2/jan06/dahmer010906.htm The Case of the 1966 KKK Firebombing] - Federal Bureau of Investigation
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