Joshua Collins

Background

On July 25, 1944, Joshua Collins was killed by a detective in Jackson, Ms. Collins, his wife Thelma and one Ruth L. Jones were sharecroppers on W.F. Farmer’s plantation nine miles south of Jackson. On July 19, as Collins was plowing the cotton field, Farmer told him to quit and to plow, instead, in a field of young corn. Collins told Farmer he would plow the corn as soon as he finished with the cotton. Angry at Collins, Farmer then plowed the corn himself.

On July 21, 1944, two unknown white men approached Collins and threatened that if he did not leave the farm immediately, he would be beaten and perhaps killed. Collins did leave the field and one of the men shot at him two or three times. The following day Collins sent someone to his home to remove the family’s belongings and he moved up to Jackson to establish himself there. On July 25, Collins was accosted by Jackson detective W.A. Higner. There was a verbal exchange, the upshot of which was Detective Higner shot and killed Collins.

Legal Status

Thelma Collins and Ruth Jones sought advice from a local lawyer and reported the killing to the NAACP in Jackson; the Association caused a federal investigation to be undertaken. The FBI found “preliminary investigation failed to reveal any connection between Farmer and Higner [the Jackson detective] or that anyone was with Higner when shooting occurred, or that Higner was one of the two white men who ran Collins off his farm.” No action was taken against Higner.