Lanier W. Phillips, Civil Rights Activist, Dies at the Age of 88
Lanier W. Phillips, a prominent civil rights activist who was so deathly afraid of white people that he wouldn’t look them in the eye until he was saved by a group of them in 1942, died Sunday at age 88 in a retirement home in Gulfport, Mississippi.
The great grandson of a Georgia slave, Phillips story is a fascinating one. He was raised in the segregated south in the 1920′s and 30′s, where the lynching of Black men was a sport, but then again, they also resorted to burning them alive, beating them to death or just riddling them with bullets. The white supremacists gang, the Ku Klux Klan, reigned supreme and used terrorist tactics to suppress Black people. Blacks were disdainfully referred to as ‘ners,’ had limited rights and were segregated from Whites.
Blacks were separated from Whites at schools, in public places and on public transportation. Blacks were denied access to parks, beaches, picnic areas, and from many hospitals. Politically, Blacks were powerless. Segregation was supported by law enforcement and the legal system.Blacks were less than second class citizens at the time that Phillips was growing up. He belonged to a race of people who faced discrimination in housing, jobs, and who were even given curfews in some areas. Phillips was raised to never look a White person in the face. He was deathly afraid of them because he had witnessed their wrath against his people. Since he had struggled with so much oppression in his life, his heart was filled with hate for those who were his oppressors.