Tougaloo College served as a refuge for activists during the Civil Rights Movement and became a central gathering place for organizers in Mississippi. The college’s Woodworth Chapel hosted many state and national leaders of the movement, such as Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A group of students known as “The Tougaloo Nine” participated in sit-ins at segregated public institutions, including the Jackson Public Library in 1961. The students refused to leave and were arrested, sparking protests on their behalf. In response to the sit-in and arrests, the American Library Association released a statement saying that its members must welcome everyone, regardless of race. Mississippi, along with Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, withdrew its membership.