- Sybil Collins Wilson
was born in McComb, Mississippi, the fourth of seven children of L. S. Travis, a sharecropper, and Icie Martin Travis. She recalled that her civil rights activism “was always predetermined, even from the womb,” since her birth in McComb was the result of her parents fleeing an abusive sharecropping situation near Itta Bena in the Mississippi Delta (Peacock et al.). The landowner had demanded that Icie Travis work in his cotton fields even though she was heavily pregnant, and then threatened to shoot L.S. when he argued on her behalf. Travis grew up at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was very prominent and active in the Deep South and the group’s terror tactics were well known. In 1955, the year that Emmett Till was lynched in the Delta, she witnessed her older brother being arrested by local police without explanation or cause. Four years later Mack Charles ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.