Lawrence Guyot was a political activist, community organizer and leader in Mississippi’s civil rights movement. He endured numerous arrests, beatings and death threats in the fight for voting rights and political representation for African-Americans.
Guyot (pronounced Ghee-ott) began working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1962. In 1963, he and several others were arrested and severely beaten by police in a Winona, Miss., jail in one of the bloodiest chapters of the state’s civil rights movement.
He became director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project in Hattiesburg and was the founding chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the credentials of the state’s all-white Democratic Party delegation at the national convention in Atlantic City, N.J.
That effort helped bring national attention to the plight of black Mississippi residents.
While Guyot ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1966, he gained full credentials as a member of the Mississippi delegation for the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Guyot graduated in 1963 from Tougaloo College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. In 1971, he graduated from Rutgers University law school and moved to Washington D.C., where he eventually worked in the administration of fellow Mississippian and activist Mayor Marion Barry.
Guyot was born July 17, 1939, in Pass Christian and died Nov. 23, 2012.