The March Against Fear was a major 1966 demonstration in the Civil Rights Movement in the South. Activist James Meredith launched the event on June 6, 1966, intending to make a solitary walk from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Mississippi, a distance of 220 miles, to counter the continuing racism in the Mississippi Deltaafter passage of federal civil rights legislation in the previous two years and encourage African Americans to register to vote. He invited only black men to join him and did not want it to be a large media event dominated by major organizations.
On the second day of his walk, Meredith was shot by James Aubrey Norvell, a white gunman, and was hospitalized. Thornton Davi Johnson suggests that Meredith was a target for rituals of attack because he had made highly publicized challenges to Mississippi’s racial order, and his walk was framed as a confident repudiation of custom.
Major civil rights organizations rallied, vowing to carry on the march through the Mississippi Delta. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) took part, with the Deacons for Defense and Justice from Louisiana providing armed protection. They struggled over tactics and goals, but also cooperated in community organizing and voter registration. They registered over 4,000 African Americans for voting in counties along the way. Some people marched for a short time, others stayed through all the events; some national leaders took part in intermittent fashion, having commitments in other cities.