Lamar Smith, a 63 year old farmer and World War II veteran was a voting rights activist and a member of the Regional Counsel of Negro Leadership. On August 2, he had voted in the primary and helped get others out to vote. There was a run-off primary scheduled for August 23, and , on August 13, Smith was at the courthouse seeking to assist black voters to fill out absentee ballots so they could vote in the run-off election. He was shot to death in the front of the courthouse in Brookhaven, Lincoln County, at about 10 am.
Three men were arrested in connection with the Smith murder. On September 13, 1955, an all white Brookhaven grand jury failed to return any indictments. The District Attorney reported that the Sheriff, Carnie E. Smith, refused to make an immediate arrest “although he knew everything I know.” The District Attorney further reported that the sheriff told him he saw Noah Smith, one of the accused, “leave the scene with blood all over him. It was his duty to take that man into custody regardless of who he was, but he did not do it.”