lawrence guyot*(Via LA Times) – Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader who was threatened, jailed and nearly beaten to death in the Deep South in the 1960s and helped lead a drive to register black voters during the tumultuous Freedom Summer of 1964, has died. He was 73.

The longtime activist, who had a history of heart problems and diabetes, died at home Thursday in Mount Rainier, Md., according to his daughter, Julie Guyot-Diangone.

A Mississippi native, Guyot was one of the original members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project in Hattiesburg, Miss.

He was founding chairman of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which sought to have blacks included among the state’s delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. That bid was rejected, but it paved the way for the seating of black delegates at the party’s 1968 convention.

Guyot was severely beaten several times, including at the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary known as Parchman Farm. He continued to speak on voting rights until his death, including encouraging people to cast ballots for President Obama.

“He was a civil rights fieldworker right up to the end,” Guyot-Diangone said.

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