Panola native, civil rights pioneer, to be honored Saturday
By Ashley Crutcher
The memory of a Panola native who was an early pioneer in the civil rights movement will be honored in a special program Saturday at Rock Hill M.B. Church in Sardis.
The late Rev. Theodore Trammell will be remembered for his work in the Clarksdale community where he taught school and pastored a church during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The program is sponsored by the Panola chapter of the NAACP and begins at 1 p.m.
“We want to celebrate his life and legacy for his work during the 50’s and 60’s civil rights movement in Clarksdale and in other places throughout the South,” said Julius Harris, president of the Panola County Branch of the NAACP, and organizer of the tribute.
A teacher and pastor, Trammell was active in voter registration efforts in Coahoma County and protesting racial discrimination.
Born in Sardis May 18, 1926, Trammell was the son of the late Martin and Irene Webb Trammell.
The oldest of seven children, he attended Panola County schools. After service in the Navy during World War II, he earned a BA degree from Rust College and studied at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta. He was ordained as a Methodist minister.
He taught in the Coahoma County School System at Hull and Lyons Jr. High School and served as pastor of Union Grove Charge and Haven United Methodist Church in that community.
Rev. Trammell served as chaplain of the Coahoma County Branch of the NAACP. He served as president of the Mississippi Regional Council of Negro Leadership, and represented the council nationally.
A historical marker at Haven United Methodist Church in Clarksdale notes Trammell’s achievements, along with those of his friend, Dr. Aaron Henry, in their work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers.
Rev. Trammell was jailed several times in Clarksdale for marching and protesting against discrimination and injustices, according to author Minion K.C. Morrison.
Rev. Trammell was arrested, along with other leaders within the community, for boycotting, though the organizers were soon released.
Rev. Trammell had helped lead the boycott and urged other members of his community to buy groceries and clothing elsewhere.
The NAACP supplied buses to these communities to take them outside of their own community to purchase goods elsewhere.
This boycott lead to other sit-ins and protests. Rev. Trammell assisted other leaders in providing vehicles to transport demonstrators to the sites and organized rides for shoppers.
Rev. Trammell and other leaders were found guilty of restraint of sale and were sentenced to six months in jail and faced a $500 fine.
To spark voter registration in the black community, Trammell ran for Congress in 1962.
At age 35 he died of a heart attack on March 16, 1962 in Clarksdale during his campaign for the 3rd District seat.
In The King Center archives in Atlanta there is a telegraph sent from Dr. King to Trammell’s widow, Ella, offering his condolences.
“The loss of this dedicated fighter for human rights creates a gap in our ranks but it will be extremely difficult to fill,” King wrote.
He is survived by his wife, Ella Heard Trammell; sister Maudie, brother Willie; children, Sandra and Brenda; grandchildren Roderick, Christopher, Erika, and Dynasti; great grandchildren are Rakeisha, Rodneisha, Jonathan, Julian and Jordynne.
The family of Rev. Trammell will receive a plaque in his honor as his life work is celebrated.