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Civil Rights History Project Interview

Lawrence Guyot (July 17, 1939-November 23, 2012)

Interview at his home in Washington, DC

Julian Bond, interviewer, December 30, 2010

"I learned that we must be able to ethically transcend ourselves and put ourselves in [the] other fellow's shoes and then make a judgment. I testified before the City Council [District of Columbia] and said 'Look, I'm astounded by people wanting to vote on denying other people human rights. ...' we didn’t sacrifice lives for that. The vote should be used to build, to strengthen. It should be used affirmatively..." Lawrence Guyot, 12/30/12 CRHP Interview

Fearless, courageous, brilliant, persistent, generous, visionary, and a civil rights warrior are just some of the accolades that have been used to describe Lawrence Guyot. While a student of Tougaloo College, he became active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As a field secretary and as director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, he mobilized voter education and registration programs for Blacks in Mississippi. He and Fannie Lou Hamer were founding members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which challenged the exclusionary nature of the traditional Democratic Party in Mississippi. The MFDP sent a delegation to the 1964 Democratic National Convention, which did not unseat the Democratic Party from Mississippi, but they were responsible for integrating (on the basis of race and gender) the Mississippi Democratic Party and they contributed substantially to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

In 1968 Guyot re-located to Washington, DC where he helped to elect Marion Barry as mayor of the District of Columbia. A 1978 graduate of Rutgers Law School, he worked in various capacities in DC government and remained a human rights activist through the rest of his life.

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