Race relations in Mississippi were based on the many legacies of slavery and Jim Crow - on racism, intimidation, and fear. Whites and blacks did not sit on buses together, eat at the same restaurants, or send their children to the same schools.
Mississippi was a "closed society" in which blacks and whites were divided by a cotton curtain. The 1954 US Supreme Court decision Brown vs. the Board of Education altered the law of the land, but had no effect on the rules of Mississippi. An era of massive resistance began in the white community against any form of integration, especially allowing black citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to vote.
Blacks endured all the indignities of segregation and lived under always implicit and always lurking threats of lynching, losing a job, being denied housing.