1962 February 22

Mississippi Editor Wins Civil Liberties Award


P.D. East, editor and publisher of The Petal Paper, a Mississippi weekly newspaper, was given the Florina Lasker Civil Liberties Award on this day by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). In the face of attacks by segregationists, East had campaigned for civil rights and other civil liberties issues. The NYCLU cited his “gallant and consistent fight in Mississippi against every form of prejudice, particularly on segregation.” Percy Dale East, a Mississippi native, published The Petal Paper from 1953 until 1971. Beginning around 1959, his views cost him local advertising, and the paper largely survived on the basis of support from outside the state. East left Mississippi in 1963 because of the hostility to his views, and relocated to Fairhope, Alabama.

The award is named for Florina Lasker, the first chairperson of the New York Civil Liberties Committee in the 1930s, the predecessor of the NYCLU.

Learn more: John Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi (1994)

And more: James Loewen, Mississippi: Conflict and Change (1974)

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