Sit-in at Mississippi lunch counter leads to life in Civil Rights movement

Sit-in at Mississippi lunch counter leads to life in Civil Rights movement

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A sit-in at a lunch counter in Mississippi was the hook that got a Summerville man involved in the Civil Rights movement.

He would become a leading figure that brought change across the South and the nation.

David Dennis was a young man when he made his historic speech at the funeral of James Chaney, one of three young civil rights workers killed by the KKK.

Dennis tells Live 5 News, he was supposed to be in the car with the young workers he was training, but stayed behind with a bad case of bronchitis. The funeral was meant to be low key, but Dennis's message went around the world.

Dennis didn't set out to change society.

From his Summerville home, he told us what led to his involvement.

Dennis was on a college scholarship, and didn't want to get in trouble. He was more interested in a girl who organized the lunch counter sit-in.

But on the day he joined the demonstrators, authorities cracked down.

"I was begging if you just let me go like you let the people before me you'll never see me again," Dennis said."But they didn't. I was the only one arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest. I was trying to get them to let me go."

Dennis devoted his life to the movement, but credits people on the grassroots level.

He says change was bubbling and the leaders helped it erupt.

A retired lawyer, Dennis continues to serve through his non-profit organization which helps kids with algebra.

He tells Live 5 News, he was able to have the records of his arrests erased.

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