Lawrence Guyot's daughter, Julie Guyot-Diangone, along with John Spann and Dr. Stuart Rockoff of the Mississippi Humanities Council at the unveiling of the Freedom Trail Marker in Pass Christian.
Guyot was instrumental in registering black voters and training them on their civil rights, in spite of threats of physical violence.
On July 7, 2023, just off Davis Street in the small town of Pass Christian, civil rights activist and leader Lawrence Thomas Guyot was honored with the official dedication of a Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker. Family, friends and local dignitaries gathered to give Guyot the recognition he has deserved for decades.
Pass Christian Alderwoman Regina Charlot outlined how this special marker came to be. In cooperation with the Mississippi Humanities Council, Visit Mississippi and the City of Pass Christian, funding was made available as well as a suitable location for the placement of the marker. Although there are over thirty such markers throughout the State of Mississippi, Guyout’s is only the second Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Alderwoman Charlot told the story on why this specific location was chosen. She explained that it was originally a park where Guyot spent a lot of time playing as a child. His house was located on Davis Avenue, within walking distance of the park, just North of the railroad tracks. Guyot also attended the Catholic church located just around the corner, where the church’s steeple still stands. Charlot noted the location is very significant as it is directly tied to Guyot’s early life from birth through high school.
Charlot when on to highlight how instrumental Guyot was in registering black voters and training them on their civil rights, in spite of threats of physical violence.
“I’m honored that they chose Pass Christian to do a marker to represent him,” Charlot said. “This is very important to Pass Christian and we need more of this. Pass Christian is a beautiful melting pot. There’s more history and I hope we continue to do more things like this, for Pass Christian and families of Pass Christian.”
John Spann, Program & Outreach Officer for the Mississippi Humanities Council paid a special tribute to Guyot’s outstanding contributions to the civil rights movement. He opened by saying, “This is a great day to honor a great man and a legacy that is still living on in many of us.”
Spann explained how Guyot was able to change things from “the inside out,” and was “a servant of the people.”
“We are very happy and proud to honor his legacy because we consider him to be an unsung hero, someone that needs more information spread throughout the world. He, along with Fannie Lou Hamer and Medgar Evers, helped not only change Mississippi, but they also changed America and so this marker is a testament to that,” Spann said. “This marker is another monument along the Mississippi Freedom Trail that can say that not only was Mississippi a part of changing civil rights history and changing America for the better, but here are local people, here are people of this community, people just like you, who are able to not only affect change locally but globally.”
Julie Guyot-Diangone, Guyot’s daughter, offered an emotional tribute to her father who passed away in 2012.
“It’s just so moving and it’s just precious and so meaningful. To have the footprints that he left behind on the Freedom Trail is so beautiful,” Guyot’s daughter said. “I know that if he were here that he would remind everyone that we all need to be mindful and to register to vote. To exercise that right and to help others with community uplift. He learned it here. He practiced it here and elsewhere, and he would encourage you to do the same.”
In addition to Alderwoman Charlot, local dignitaries in attendance included Pass Christian Mayor Jimmy Rafferty, Ward 1 Alderwoman Betty Sparkman, Ward 3 Alderman Kirk Kimball and Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich. Alderman Kenny Torgeson was out of town and unavailable to attend.
Mayor Rafferty expressed how good it was for everyone to come together in recognition of Guyot.
“It’s great having us all come together for an event like this for Lawrence Guyot who was very instrumental in the civil rights movement and what’s even more spectacular, is that he’s from Pass Christian, and that’s a great thing,” Rafferty said.
The marker, which cost $10,000, will be a featured on the site for generations to come and will be a focal point for visitors to The Pass. The City of Pass Christian has agreed to add a garden and will provide recurring maintenance for the site. Also providing support to this endeavor was the JW Randolph Foundation and the Harrison County Board of Supervisors.