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Mississippi Black History Makers

Mississippi Black History Makers

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 468
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  • Book Info
    Mississippi Black History Makers
    Book Description:

    This new edition of biographical sketches of notable blacks from Mississippi expands the edition published in 1977. A total of 166 figures are included in this new printing, all of them persons who have, by the authors' comprehensive survey, "made significant contributions in bringing about the uplift of the black race."

    Black history makers are defined herein as those who have achieved national prominence in their fields, have made lasting contributions within the state as pioneers in fields where blacks were not previously allowed, or contributed in their own community or field, representing the lives of many blacks and serving as role models of what can be accomplished. Each of those included in the book either was born in Mississippi and spent a part of his or her childhood there or migrated to Mississippi and remained.

    Seventy-five history makers have been added to those in the first edition which included Hiram R. Revels, the first black U.S. Senator; Blanche K. Bruce, the first black U.S. Senator to serve a six-year term; political and civil rights leaders such as Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, and Fannie Lou Hamer; and contributors to arts and letters such as Leontyne Price, William Grant Still, Margaret Walker Alexander, and James Earl Jones; and many others./ Among those included in this new edition of Mississippi Black History Makers are William Johnson, a free black from antebellum Natchez; Margaret Murray Washington, wife of Booker T. Washington; "Bo Diddley" McDaniel, a pioneer rock-and-roll musician; Walter Payton, running back for the Chicago Bears; and other notable black Mississippians.

    Information about many contemporary figures who appeared in the first edition has been updated, and the book has been reorganized in ten thematic sections: politics, civil rights, business, education, performing and visual arts, journalism and literature, military, science/medicine/social work, sports, and religion. Each section is introduced with an historical overview of this field in Mississippi, written by Margaret Dwight.

    This book is a valuable reference work for those wishing to assess the contributions of blacks to the history of Mississippi. Of particular significance is the fact that it is a collection which brings attention to lesser known figures as well as those of considerable renown.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-428-2
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-ix)
  3. Preface
    (pp. x-2)
    Margaret L. Dwight
  4. Politics

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 3-6)

      To appreciate the impact that black politicians have had upon Mississippi society, one must understand that southern politics has historically been based upon the racial doctrine of white supremacy, Jim Crowism, and conservatism. Southern politics was oppressive to blacks and fed upon the denial of civil liberties, executive, judicial, and legislative inequality, and reinforced violence.

      In the 1960s black politicians in Mississippi assessed their political strength, unified, and organized and used their political power base to influence change and control electoral decisions. Their political modus operandi depended upon the reinforcement of group values and participation as well as the consolidation...

    • Hiram Rhodes Revels First Black United States Senator
      (pp. 7-16)

      Black Mississippians perceived political Reconstruction as the “golden age” of high expectations. At no other time in Mississippi history, except during the civil rights movement, did blacks have the option of making freedom a reality through the political processes. Opportunities to vote, to hold office, to receive an education, and to share in the state’s wealth were available. Because of blacks’ participation in Mississippi politics during Reconstruction, numerous black leaders were nominated and elected. Among those selected was Hiram Rhodes Revels, who rose to prominence as the state and nation’s first black United States Senator.

      Revels, the first of three...

    • Blanche Kelso Bruce First Black To Serve A Full Term In U.S. Senate
      (pp. 16-26)

      Blanche K. Bruce was the first black man to serve a full six-year term in the United States Senate, to preside over that body, and to sign his name on the nation’s currency. Born a slave in Farmville, Virginia, on March 1, 1841, Bruce, broad shouldered and erect, typified the model American black male of average height. His countenance and manner provoked no antagonism, and his personality harmonized with the many political successes he achieved during the Reconstruction era in Mississippi.

      Bruce rose to the status of United States Senator from humble beginnings. His mother, Polly, a house slave, gave...

    • John Roy Lynch Peerless Statesman
      (pp. 26-38)

      In 1973 the City Council of Jackson, Mississippi, named one of its principal thoroughfares in honor of John Roy Lynch, the first of two blacks ever elected to the Speakership of the Mississippi House of Representatives.¹

      John R. Lynch was born on Tacony Plantation, Concordia Parish, near Vidalia, Louisiana, on September 10, 1847. He was the third son of Patrick Lynch, a rich and respected Irish plantation manager and Catherine White, a slave of the plantation owner. Patrick Lynch, a native of Dublin, Ireland, came to this country at an early age. As a young man he came south and soon...

    • James D. Lynch A Founder of the Mississippi Republican Party
      (pp. 38-48)

      James D. Lynch was the first black to hold a major political office in Mississippi.¹ The Maryland native, a mulatto, who was well educated and very capable, came to Mississippi in 1868 as an official of the Methodist Episcopal Church North. During the next three years Lynch gained a place in the hearts of Negroes and openminded whites that was never challenged by either group. A Democratic newspaper referred to him as “the most popular carpetbagger in the State—the best educated, the best speaker, and the most effective orator of that [Republican] party in Mississippi; and withal, as much...

    • James Hill Politician-Kingmaker
      (pp. 48-49)

      James Hill, Mississippi secretary of state from 1874 to 1878, was born a slave on the J. Hill Salem Road Plantation about two miles from Holly Springs, Mississippi, July 25, 1846.¹

      Hill, a light mulatto, received a rudimentary education, reading and writing, from his master’s two daughters. He continued his education while working as a youth in the railroad shops of Holly Springs. Although Hill never obtained any formal education, he financed his younger brother’s education at Oberlin College. Hill had no time for diversions, he devoted himself to study and work.² With the advent of the Civil War, Hill...

    • Thomas W. Stringer Physician, Churchman, State Senator
      (pp. 49-51)

      By far the most influential black at the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1868 and the most powerful political leader of his race in the state until 1869 was T. W. Stringer of Vicksburg.¹ Stringer, a physician and minister, was born in 1815 in Maryland, later migrated to Ohio,² and ultimately to Mississippi. Of medium height, slightly heavy build, and a light brown complexion, Stringer was a man of many interests, well trained, and a genius at organizing.

      Early in life Stringer joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was licensed as a preacher at the Ohio Annual Methodist Conference in...

    • Josiah T. Settle Orator, Lawyer, and Legislator
      (pp. 52-54)

      The Honorable Josiah T. Settle was born September 30, 1850, in the Cumberland Mountains, while his master-father Josiah Settle and slave-mother Nancy Settle were en route from North Carolina to Mississippi. As soon as circumstances would permit, they continued their journey and settled in Mississippi; thus he claimed that as his native state. The father, a descendant of the famous Settles of Rockingham, North Carolina, was a widower when he began raising a family by his former slave. Being devoted to his children and their mother, he manumitted them several years after arriving in Mississippi. After being informed that the...

    • Roscoe Conklin Simmons Political Orator
      (pp. 55-57)

      Roscoe Conklin Simmons was a politician, orator, and talented writer in the early years of this century. His oratorical skills earned him a reputation as a flamboyant word artist.¹

      Simmons was born about 1875 at Greenview, Mississippi, and rose from an humble environment to a position of prominence enjoyed by few blacks of his day. He was the nephew of Margaret Murray Washington, wife of Booker T. Washington. By Simmons’s own account, Washington sent him at age twelve to live with Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio. Senator Hanna, a powerful millionaire industrialist, gained fame as a “President Maker.” Simmons also...

    • Robert H. Wood Natchez Mayor
      (pp. 58-59)

      Robert Wood was one of several free blacks who lived in Mississippi before the Civil War.¹ According to historian Vernon L. Wharton, Robert Wood and his fellow Natchez resident, William McCary, were “intelligent members of families who had been free and respected residents of Natchez for several generations.”²

      Robert H. Wood was a printer in the photographic establishment in which John Roy Lynch was employed as a messenger boy. In his autobiography, Lynch states, “I rendered such valuable assistance to Wood that I was prepared, after a period of about three months, to take his place as printer while he...

    • James Charles Evers First Black Mayor of Fayette
      (pp. 59-66)

      James Charles Evers, was born September 11, 1922, in Decatur, Mississippi, to James and Jessie Wright Evers. Because his parents were devout affiliates of the Church of God in Christ and strict disciplinarians, drinking, smoking, and gambling were taboo. His father, a temperamental businessman and sawmill worker who could neither read nor write, deplored racism. James Evers boasted that he owned his property and did not rent from whites. Charles’s mother of Indian ancestry emphasized the importance of obtaining an education in order for blacks to become independent.¹

      Several racial incidents molded or shaped Charles’s stance on civil rights. For...

    • Unita Blackwell Wright Mississippi’s First Black Female Mayor
      (pp. 66-67)

      Unita Blackwell Wright, a three dollar-a-day farm worker and native of Issaquena County, Mississippi, was elected mayor of Mayersville in 1977, thus becoming the tenth black mayor in the state and the first black female in Mississippi history to be so honored. Ebony magazine described her election as representing, “the inroads women have made in the predominantly male world of politics and signified a change in Mississippi’s image.”¹

      In 1976, Mayersville, a river town of approximately 500 residents, had no city hall, police department, school, doctor, or even a sidewalk or streetlight. Because there was no city hall, Mayor Wright...

    • Eddie James Carthan Tchula Mayor
      (pp. 67-71)

      In 1977, the citizens of Tchula, Mississippi, a predominantly black Delta town in Holmes County, elected twenty-seven year old Eddie James Carthan mayor. Campaigning on a reform platform, Carthan promised to serve “all of the people.” He believed that being elected mayor was one of the benefits of the civil rights movement. “I thought I could represent those who had come through slavery, knowing nothing about going to a motel, sitting in the front of the bus, or eating in a restaurant.”¹

      For over a century this town was controlled by aristocratic white planters and their political allies. Of Tchula’s...

    • Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. Mayor of Washington, D.C.
      (pp. 72-72)

      Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr., mayor of Washington, D.C., was born to Marion S. and Mattie B. Barry, sharecroppers, in Itta Bena, March 6, 1936. In 1958 Barry Jr. received a B.S. degree in chemistry from LeMoyne College in Memphis, Tennessee, and in 1960 the M.S. degree from Fisk University, in Nashville.¹

      When the civil rights movement began in the 1960s, Barry abandoned work on a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Tennessee to participate. He served as the first national chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Because of his involvement in demonstrations and boycotts he was frequently...

    • Evan Doss Claiborne County Tax Assessor and Collector
      (pp. 73-75)

      The youngest and only black elected tax assessor and collector in the state of Mississippi, Evan Doss has been instrumental in Claiborne County’s efforts in recent years to equalize property taxes and thereby increase available funds for the public schools and county services.

      Doss was born July 6, 1948, in the infirmary at Alcorn A. & M. College, where his mother worked as a housemaid and cook. Her education ended in the fourth grade. His father, a minister and sharecropper, completed only the second grade. As a student at Alcorn College, Doss earned his B.S. degree and was introduced to...

    • W. E. Mollison Mississippi’s First Prominent Black Lawyer and District Attorney
      (pp. 75-76)

      W. E. Mollison, a lawyer, banker and publicist, graduated from Fisk University in 1880. He was admitted to the bar in May 1881. When Mollison migrated from Tennessee to Issaquena County, Mississippi, in the 1880’s, he became actively involved in state politics. In 1881, the Democratic Board of Education appointed him Superintendent of Public Education. After serving two years in that capacity, the voters of Mayersville, a predominantly black town in Issaquena County, elected Mollison Clerk of the Chancery Court, and he was re-elected unopposed in 1887.¹

      In 1892 Mollison temporarily retired from public office to resume his legal responsibilities...

    • Constance Slaughter-Harvey First Black Female Judge in Mississippi
      (pp. 76-77)

      A Jackson native and graduate of Tougaloo College, attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey was the first black female to graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Law. In 1976 at the request of Judge Guyton Idom, she served as Scott County Judge in a case in which Idom had previously represented one of the parties involved, becoming the first black female judge to occupy the bench in Mississippi.¹

      Although Slaughter-Harvey is trained to handle various kinds of cases, she prefers criminal ones. For more than eight years she practiced law in Meridian before opening an office in Forest. Her involvement in...

    • Henry Jay Kirksey State Senator
      (pp. 77-80)

      Henry J. Kirksey—demographer, lithographer, cartographer, publisher, and state senator—was born May 9, 1915, and grew up in rural Lee County, near Tupelo. He was the fourth of eight children born to Charlie S. and Nettie M. Kirksey, both natives of northeast Mississippi. Farm chores prevented Henry Kirksey from attending school regularly, so, at age 20 he promoted himself to grade nine at Lee County Training School in Tupelo, just as he had done many times previously.

      When he reached age 21, Henry Kirksey migrated to St. Louis, Missouri, to live with his older brother, Charles, who advised and...

    • Robert George Clark State Legislator
      (pp. 80-84)

      In January 1968, the seating of Robert G. Clark in the Mississippi legislature marked the beginning of a new era in Mississippi politics. Representative Clark, the first black to sit in the state legislature, was elected from District Sixteen, Holmes and Yazoo Counties.

      Born on October 3, 1929, in Ebenezer, a small rural town in Holmes County, the grandson of slaves, Clark sprang from a line of earnest school teachers and church workers who farmed their own land and avoided the humiliation of working in the white man’s fields. Nevertheless, life had its difficulties for him as for most young...

    • Aaron Henry Mississippi Legislator and Political Activist
      (pp. 84-87)

      Born on July 2, 1922, to Edd and Mattie Logan Henry near Clarksdale, Aaron Henry, unlike most of his peers, received a formal education. He earned his B.S. degree with a major in political science from Xavier University in New Orleans. During his senior year in college, he was elected president of the Student Government Association. Later, he received a degree in pharmacy after which he returned to Clarksdale and operated a drug store until 1943. In that year he enlisted in the United States Army as a private and, after a tour of duty in the Pacific Theater, was...

    • Douglas Leavon Anderson State Senator
      (pp. 87-87)

      Douglas Leavon Anderson, a native of Hinds County, was elected in 1974 from the 27th senatorial district. He received his B.S. degree from Dillard University in New Orleans and his M.S. degree from Oklahoma University. Presently, he is an instructor at Jackson State University. He holds membership in numerous civic and social organizations, such as the Governor’s Judicial Committee, the State Building Commission, State Health Coordinating Council, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and the Masons....

    • Fred Lee Banks Legislator
      (pp. 87-87)

      Fred Lee Banks, a graduate of Howard University, was awarded both the B.S. and Juris Doctorate degrees from that institution. Banks, who is affiliated with the National Conference of Black Lawyers, Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the National Association of Teachers of Attorneys, wants blacks to receive an equal share in the decision making process and to be accepted as equal partners in American society. “I want to be a part of abolishing harmful legislation and help bring about legislation that will be benefiting,” Banks says. Elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in...

    • Horace Lawson Buckley Legislator
      (pp. 87-88)

      Horace Lawson Buckley attended Mississippi Valley State University, where the Jackson native received his B.S. degree, and did further study at Tuskegee Institute, Jackson State University, and Mississippi State university. In 1974, Buckley was elected from the 70th district to serve in the state legislature. Buckley’s primary interests are education, social services, and economic delivery system. Very active in local and state affairs, Buckley is an involved participant in the Mississippi Teachers Association, Mississippi Personnel and Guidance Association Board, Jackson Housing Authority and the General Baptist state convention.¹...

    • Credell Calhoun Legislator
      (pp. 88-88)

      Credell Calhoun, representing the 68th district, where he was elected in 1978, is a native of Louisiana. His educational training include a B.S. degree from Prairie View A. & M. College in Texas and further study at Jackson State University. He has served as administrative assistant to the mayor of Jackson, as auditor for the Governor’s Office Job Development Training, and as a counselor. He is a member of the Elks, Masons, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Hinds County Mental Health Association, and the Mississippi Boy Scouts council. As state representative, Calhoun hopes “to accomplish more and better services for senior...

    • Tyrone Ellis Legislator
      (pp. 88-88)

      Tyrone Ellis, elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives from the 40th district in 1978, stresses the following legislative goals: “Upgrading the quality of education in Mississippi through an effective school system . . . [using] all influence to see that the people of my district are represented fairly and equally.” A Starkville dairy farmer and general contractor, Ellis matriculated at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he received the B.I. degree and later attended East Mississippi Junior College and Mississippi State University. A member of the Oktibbeha County school board, Ellis also holds membership in the National Association for the Advancement of...

    • Hillman Jerome Frazier Legislator
      (pp. 89-89)

      Hillman Jerome Frazier is a Jackson native who represents the 67th district in the Mississippi House of Representatives. His main objectives are to “make sure people have a voice in state government and look out for the interest of blacks.” Furthermore, he would like to see compulsory education, public kindergarten statewide, and a push for pot-hole legislation in Mississippi. Attorney Frazier is a graduate of Jackson State University and George Washington University National Law Center. He is affiliated with the Prince Hall Mason’s, Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored people, Family Service Association, and National Conference of...

    • Isiah Fredericks Legislator
      (pp. 89-89)

      Isiah Fredericks, who represent the 119th district in the Mississippi House of Representatives, “wants to see the public confidence reestablished with the public taking a greater interest in local politics and state issues . . . a stabilized economy and greater economic opportunities for minorities.” He believes these things can be accomplished through support of local and state government and cooperative positive attitude of all citizens. A general contractor from Kiln, Fredericks is president of the North Gulfport Civic Club, chief of North Gulfport Fire Department and a member of the board of directors of Harrison-Hancock Community Action Agency and...

    • David Leo Green Legislator
      (pp. 89-90)

      David Leo Green, a deputy sheriff and retailer who was elected to the Mississippi House from the 98th coastal district, was born at Rosetta, Mississippi, and was graduated from Southwest Mississippi Junior College. Green’s aim is to help upgrade the overall status of Mississippi government. Green believes the state must improve to meet the challenges of the times and emphasizes that “education is the only way to improve socially and economically.” Additionally, Green is interested in improvement in the management of fish and game. Green is associated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Master Masons, and...

    • Clayton P. Henderson Legislator
      (pp. 90-90)

      Clayton P. Henderson, state representative from the 9th district and a native of Mound Bayou, graduated from Jackson State University and John A. Gupton College. In addition to serving as a legislator, Henderson is a funeral service practitioner and an insurance agent. He is affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Falcon Jaycees, Mississippi and National Funeral Directors Association. Because of his concern for the welfare of mankind, poor and rich, Henderson would like to work for improvements in the welfare and educational systems: fight for cuts in Medicaid, get pay raises for teachers, push for...

    • Leslie Darnell King Legislator
      (pp. 90-90)

      Leslie Darnell King, a Greenville native, graduated from the University of Mississippi and Texas Southern University Law School. Representing the 51st district in the state legislature, King advocates long range gains as opposed to those more quickly and easily attained. He believes that gains in education and job opportunities, the two most important areas, must go hand in hand: “education prepares citizens for jobs.” King actively participates in Phi Alpha Delta, Elks, Mississippi and the American Bar Association.¹...

    • Barney J. Schoby Legislator
      (pp. 91-91)

      Barney J. Schoby, a teacher and two-term Adams County supervisor, wants to see more social programs for the poor and less fortunate. The Liberty native received his B.S. degree from Alcorn State University and was elected to the state House of Representatives from the 95th district in 1978. As a staunch supporter of quality education, Schoby emphasizes returning to the basics. He advocates requiring four units of mathematics, a reading program, and English.¹...

    • Charles Bernard Sheppard Legislator
      (pp. 91-91)

      Charles Bernard Sheppard, a lawyer and university professor, was elected to the state House of Representatives from the 87th district in 1978. The Claiborne County native is a graduate of Alcorn State University, University of Mississippi law school, Southern University School of Law and Mississippi College School of Law. As state representative, Sheppard wishes to act as spokesman for the people of his district, making them a part of the law making process to guarantee equal opportunities. Sheppard contends that “those deprived should get a double dosage of opportunity.” While fighting for the rights of his constituents, Sheppard is actively...

    • Percy Willis Watson Legislator
      (pp. 91-92)

      Percy Willis Watson, who is the president of the Forrest County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives from the 104th district. The Hattiesburg native received his B.A. degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. Representative Watson summarizes his legislative priorities as follows: “Individuals who are physically unable to provide for themselves, should be provided for. Voter registration and political participation should become less difficult in Mississippi. The top priority is enforcement of educational provisions. Political change...

    • Charles Lemuel Young Legislator
      (pp. 92-92)

      Charles Lemuel Young, was elected in 1978 to the state House of Representatives from the 84th district. He is a native of Meridian, Mississippi, and a graduate of Tennessee A. & I. University and did graduate studies at the University of Denver. He firmly believes that the economic incentive of the people must be stimulated and increased and that avenues of small businesses must be promoted. Better veterans programs and veterans’ education are two more of his goals. Young is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity; Elks, National Business League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Mason,...

    • Deborah Jones Gambrell Justice Court Judge
      (pp. 92-93)

      A native of Jasper County, Deborah G. Gambrell became in 1979 the first black elected official in Forrest County when she was chosen Justice Court Judge of Beat 4. She graduated from Stone County Public High School in Wiggins, Mississippi, completed degree requirements for B.S. degree in political science at the University of Southern Mississippi, and received her law degree from Mississippi College School of Law in 1978. Upon graduating, she opened a law office in Hattiesburg.¹

      Since assuming her responsibility as judge, attorney Gambrell has dealt with difficult legal issues including the proposals for Congressional and state legislative redistricting....

    • Melvin Redmond Local Politician
      (pp. 93-93)

      July 1977, when Melvin Redmond was elected city alderman, he became the first black elected official in Vicksburg since Reconstruction. At age 41 he began his official duties July 5, 1977. Under the ward system adopted by the United State Department of Justice, Redmond served the northern part of Vicksburg. The specific purpose of the ward system was to assist with the enhancement of electing minority candidates. On July 6, 1981, Redmond was reelected to another four year term.¹...

    • James Winfield City Solicitor
      (pp. 93-94)

      James Winfield, son of Lawrence and Gertrude Winfield and a Vicksburg native, graduated from the Rosa A. Temple High School. Thereafter he attended Morris Brown College in Atlanta, where in 1967 he received the Bachelor of Science degree in pre-law. Following study at the Emory University Law School, he transferred to the University of Mississippi, School of Jurisprudence, where he received the LL.B. degree.¹

      Attorney Winfield opened offices in Vicksburg and Jackson, and as Vicksburg’s only black attorney, handled most of the civil rights and discriminatory law suits for Vicksburg and surrounding areas. He identified with Henry Kirksey and joined...

    • Eddie Lucas Mississippi State Penitentiary’s First Black Warden
      (pp. 94-94)

      On January 1, 1980, Governor William Winter appointed Eddie Lucas, a Cleveland, Mississippi, native, the first black acting-warden of Parchman State Prison to replace Steve Hargett. Tom Greggory, Department of Corrections Information Director, called Lucas a “mature man, very solid and a good administrator.” Others described Lucas as an “extremely efficient and highly competent man.”¹

      Following the surprise announcement of his temporary appointment, the fifty-year old Lucas exclaimed, “I have never dreamed that Mr. Hargett would resign and even less that I would become acting warden.” Approximately six months later on Monday June 9, 1980, Eddie Lucas, graduate of Alcorn...

    • Eddie L. McBride Minister and Political Activist
      (pp. 94-95)

      The thirty-nine year old black Jackson minister, Eddie L. McBride, sought to force Wayne Dowdy, Democratic incumbent, and Republican challenger, Liles Williams, to discuss critical issues germane to blacks and poor by entering the Fourth Congressional District election as an independent candidate in 1982. During the campaign however, he supported public kindergarten and a lay board of education in Mississippi—two key issues that were of grave concern to the public. He advocated using federal and state funds for programs to improve the education in the state.¹

      Many of his critics accused him of entering the congressional race to siphon...

    • Clifford Jennings Assistant Superintendent of Parchman
      (pp. 95-95)

      Clifford Jennings, 40, was appointed the first black assistant superintendent of Parchman Penitentiary. Jennings, a native of Verona, attended high school at Piney Woods and served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955. He is a social science graduate from Jackson State University and has done graduate work at Mississippi State University and the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining the staff at Parchman, Jennings served as district executive for the Boy Scouts of America in the Delta Area Council and as deputy director and coeducation coordinator for the Head Start Coordinating Council.¹...

    • James C. Cooper Mississippi Highway Patrolman
      (pp. 95-96)

      In 1974, the Mississippi Highway Patrol integrated its unit when the department recruited four blacks to fill its racial quota. Under fire by the Justice Department and the Supreme Court, the Highway Patrol had among its forty-one recruits in 1978, thirty-four blacks. After these recruits completed a fifteen week training program, the graduating class president, James C. Cooper, a black Jacksonian, was class spokesperson at the commencement exercise in April 1978. (Of the twenty recruits who successfully completed the training program, fourteen were blacks.)¹...

    • Vernon C. Johnson State Department Official
      (pp. 96-96)

      Vernon C. Johnson, Port Gibson native, is now director of the Agency for International Development (AID) in Tanzania. He attended Port Gibson public schools and was graduated from Southern University in 1948 after service with the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946. He earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in agriculture economics at the University of Wisconsin. His AID assignments have included India, Uganda, and Washington, D.C.¹...

    • Charles E. Pugh Labor Department Official
      (pp. 96-96)

      Charles E. Pugh, a native of Shubuta and graduate of Jackson State University, was chosen in 1975 to head the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Budget. Pugh a career Labor Department official who was thirty years old when selected, is the first black to direct the overall budget activities of a cabinet-level agency. While at Jackson State University, Pugh twice won the Dansby-Bond Award for outstanding scholarship and student leadership. He was a foreign affairs scholar under a joint Ford Foundation-U.S. State Department program for exceptional students.¹...

    • William K. Dease, Sr. Civil Service Commission
      (pp. 96-97)

      August 1973, the Jackson City Council appointed William K. Dease, Sr., to the Civil Service Commission. Dease, a graduate of Lanier High School and Morehouse College, became the first black to hold such a position. Dease, the director of data processing at Jackson State College, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Joe Kirkland. After the expiration of that term, Dease was elected to a full four year term.¹...

    • Betty Jones Postmaster
      (pp. 97-98)

      Betty Jones, a 1970 graduate of Jackson State University, became a postal employee. Her job entailed sorting mail and clerical assignments. Shortly afterwards she was named postmaster for Tougaloo, Mississippi, where she supervised a staff of thirteen.

      In the early 1980s Jones was appointed postmaster of Covington, Georgia, where she supervises an integrated staff of thirty. As postmaster, she oversees all operations of the post office, supervises all mail carriers and mail sorting operations, handles customer’s complaints, and does the bookkeeping and accounting.¹...

  5. Civil Rights

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 99-102)

      For centuries, the black struggle to obtain civil rights in America, particularly in Mississippi, has been a gradual but continuous battle. The methods of achieving this goal have been modified, but the objectives have remained unchanged. In Mississippi those engaged in the civil rights movement of the 1980s are seeking equal employment opportunities, quality education, and political participation.

      The battle began during Reconstruction when the Mississippi Legislature passed a series of acts guaranteeing black people their rights as citizens and invalidating the Black Code which severely limited the civil rights of the newly freed blacks. In order to obtain education,...

    • Ida B. Wells Crusader
      (pp. 103-111)

      One black woman who typified the struggles of the Afro-American female, defied the obstacles, and achieved abundant success is Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Her birth at Holy Springs, Mississippi, on July 16, 1862, scarcely six months prior to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation seemed prophetic of the impatience that was the hallmark of her continuing quest to improve the quality of life of her people.¹

      Ida, the first of eight children born to Jim and Elizabeth Wells, came of age amidst the uncertain and seamy Reconstruction. Her parents had been servants. Her father, son of his master and one of...

    • Margaret Murray Washington Club Organizer and Civil Rights Advocate
      (pp. 111-112)

      Margaret Murray Washington (Mrs. Booker T.), one of ten children was born March 9, 1865, in Macon, Mississippi. She was a mulatto, with reddish-brown hair, gray hazel eyes, strong features, and a large commanding figure. After completing her early education, she entered Fisk University in 1880 and nine years later graduated. She and another female were the only female members of a predominantly male class. While in school she suffered from poor health, but her ambitious spirit and iron will pulled her through.¹

      After graduation from Fisk, Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute employed her as a teacher of English literature....

    • Jack Harvey Young, Sr. Distinguished Civil Rights Lawyer (1908–1976)
      (pp. 112-117)

      As a result of sit-ins, boycotts, voting registration, and freedom rides in the 1960s, Mississippi, a hotbed of racial injustice and discrimination, was transformed from a caste-like society into a reluctant pluralistic one. In 1961, for example, a dozen students at Tougaloo College sat in at the Jackson Public Library; when they refused police orders to leave, they were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. This was Mississippi’s first civil rights demonstration case. Attorney Jack H. Young represented the group so well that the NAACP hired him as a full-time staff attorney. Thus began his long and successful career...

    • Medgar Evers Civil Rights Advocate
      (pp. 117-122)

      Born on July 2, 1925, in Decatur, Newton County, Medgar Wiley Evers, the youngest of two sons of James and Jessie Wright Evers, rose to prominence as a civil rights advocate and an office holder in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. A timid and soft spoken, yet determined individual, Medgar was greatly influenced by his parents’ religious convictions. As members of the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal denomination that prohibits drinking, smoking, and gambling, the Evers were very pious people. James Evers, his father, was a rugged migratory sawmill worker who owned his home...

    • Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights Activist
      (pp. 122-131)

      Fannie Lou Townsend, the youngest of twenty children, was born on October 6, 1917, in rural Montgomery County. When she was two, her family moved to Sunflower County. While still quite young she learned about white domination

      I remember, and I never will forget, one day—I was six years old and I was playing beside the road and this plantation owner drove up to me and asked me could I pick cotton! I told him I didn’t know and he said, ‘Yes, you can. I will give you things that you want from the commissary store,’ and he named...

    • Clyde Kennard Quest for Knowledge at USM
      (pp. 131-133)

      A small farm on highway 59 north in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was the birth site of Clyde Kennard, the youngest child of Leona Smith and Will Kennard. On July 12, 1927, Clyde became the sixth child and fourth son of the Kennard’s. Short in stature (approximately five feet and six inches tall), very thin, dark complexioned, and soft spoken, Clyde was always willing to share, to give, and to help at home. During his early childhood, he was sickly and could not do many farm chores. Frequently, his brothers Lawrence, Albert, and Melvin, or his sisters Dorothy and Sarah would help...

    • James H. Meredith Man with a Mission
      (pp. 133-143)

      “Cap” Meredith, the son of a slave, resented white southern economic domination over blacks. He refused to cooperate with white neighbors who offered to share the cost and maintenance of boundary line fences. Instead, he insisted on moving his fences two feet from the actual line in order to retain control of his property. No white man, he contended, would ever have an excuse to invade the privacy of his eighty-four-acre cotton and corn farm near Kosciusko in the rocky bottom land of Attala County in north-central Mississippi.¹

      James Howard Meredith, the seventh of thirteen children and the first of...

    • James Chaney One of Three Lives for Mississippi
      (pp. 143-145)

      Born May 30, 1941, in Meridian, Mississippi, James Chaney, a high school dropout, perceived his involvement in the civil rights movement as an opportunity to make his life meaningful. Approximately five feet and seven inches tall and weighing 140 pounds, James was one of five children of Fannie Lee Chaney. After his father deserted the family, he engaged in manual labor to help his mother keep bread on the table. Like other Mississippi black youths from broken homes, James was raised in dire poverty; therefore, he eventually dropped out of school to assist the family financially.¹

      In spite of his...

    • Willie Tatum Acting-Fire Chief and Civil Rights Activist
      (pp. 145-146)

      A prominent black leader is Willie Tatum, acting Chief of the Palmer’s Crossing Volunteer Fire Department in Forrest County. The fire department materialized as a result of a community action law-suit filed against then-Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano and the Forrest County Board of Supervisors. In an out-of-court settlement, Tatum obtained enough revenues to build a fire station, to purchase a fire truck, to obtain paved streets, to secure a sewage system, and to construct a recreational center in Palmer’s Crossing. Before the suit, there was no fire station servicing the needs of the people in the...

  6. Business

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 147-148)

      Lack of capital, training, and clientele have prevented most black Mississippians from entering the business world. During the antebellum period, slavery inhibited the progress of free-born blacks toward economic independence, and racism spurned the evolution of black economic nationalism and self-help during and after Reconstruction.

      Paternalism, which existed between slave and master, evolved into individualism as blacks realized their potential for economic success through racial solidarity and self-help. This economic philosophy was espoused and popularized by Booker T. Wasington, the spokesperson for the black race during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Southern blacks, especially Mississippians, readily accepted his...

    • William T. Johnson Natchez Barber-Builder-Diarist
      (pp. 149-154)

      William Johnson, one of America’s most remarkable diarist, offered the first known chronological journals kept by a free black person in the antebellum South. His diary reveals much about life in Natchez, a major southern town with a sizeable free black population. The diary also illustrates the extraordinary rise of a black man from bondage to freedom, his success in business, and the respect that he received in his community, and it sheds light on black-white relationships in the South.¹ This essential primary source gives a firsthand account of “a free black man’s life, and sets forth another clue in...

    • The Montgomerys: Ben and Isaiah, Father and Son
      (pp. 154-163)

      In 1962 the oldest all-black town in the United States—Mound Bayou, Mississippi—celebrated its Diamond Jubilee Anniversary and paid tribute to its founder, Isaiah T. Montgomery. His father, Benjamin Thornton Montgomery, was born in Loundoun County, Virginia. Before reaching adulthood, Benjamin was sold to a slave trader, who took him to Natchez, Mississippi, where Joseph E. Davis, a distinguished planter, purchased and enslaved him on his extensive Warren County plantation known as Hurricane. Afterwards Davis sent him to Brierfield, the plantation of former Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, commonly referred to as Davis Bend in southwest Warren County. “The plantation...

    • George Washington Lee Businessman, Politician, and Author
      (pp. 163-170)

      “Lieutenant George Washington Lee, a black raised on a Mississippi cotton patch, carved out a career of prestige and recognition as an army lieutenant, a wealthy Memphis businessman, a novelist, a fraternal leader of the Negro Elks, and a Republican politician. He was the South’s last black patronage boss until he went down to defeat at the Goldwater Republican Convention in 1964.”¹

      George W. Lee was born about four miles west of Indianola in Sunflower County, on January 4, 1894—one year prior to Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise,” and lived through Stokely Carmichael’s “Black Power” era. His parents, the Reverend...

    • Joseph Edison Walker Banker, Insurance Executive
      (pp. 170-176)

      Tillman, a raw, remote community in the far reaches of Claiborne County, Mississippi, was the birthplace of Joseph E. Walker. He was born March 31, 1880, to a mother affectionately known as “Aunty Patsy Walker.” His father is unknown.¹

      Joseph Walker grew up in a meager Christian home. Like other boys of that community, he worked on the farm, went to school a few months of the year, fished, hunted, and enjoyed the bounties of nature. In 1897, at the age of seventeen, Joseph, hopeful of entering Alcorn A & M College, rode the train from Tillman to Lorman and...

    • Clarie Collins Harvey Mortuary Entrepreneur
      (pp. 176-180)

      “I was born in Meridian under the sign of Sagittarius,” Clarie Collins Harvey recalled, “the jet propelled arrow, the only child of Malachi C., a mathematics professor at Rust College, and Mary Augusta Rayford Collins, Mississippi’s first black librarian.” Isaac Collins, her paternal grandfather, was a slave. After the Civil War he married and became a farmer in Hazelhurst. Harvey’s maternal forebearers became plantation owners in Lauderdale County, and for more than forty years were merchants in Meridian.¹

      In Meridian, a predominantly white community, Clarie had many white playmates to visit, but she was never allowed at their homes. Sometimes...

    • George Johnson Business Millionaire
      (pp. 180-181)

      George Johnson, millionaire-industrialist, native of Laurel, is president of the Johnson Products Company, Inc., the largest manufacturer of personal grooming products for black consumers. During the initial stage of the Great Depression in 1929, when Johnson was two years old, his mother packed her bags and three sons and traveled to Chicago in search of employment and a better way of life. But it was not until 1954 that Johnson reaped the benefits of improved economic conditions. With $250 in borrowed capital, Johnson founded Johnson’s Products and manufactured a single product, Ultra Wave Hair Culture, a chemical straightener for men....

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • Robert Earl James Youngest Black Bank President
      (pp. 181-182)

      Robert Earl James, a native of Hattiesburg, became one of America’s youngest bank presidents on December 1,1971, when he was elected at age twenty-five to head the Carver State Bank in Savannah, Georgia, with assets of over four million dollars. In 1980, the bank’s assets totaled more than 16 million dollars. The son of the late Jimmie James, Sr., and Mrs. Annie M. James, Robert Earl finished Rowan High School in Hattiesburg and received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia, and the M.A. degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration...

    • Jessie R. Chambliss Businessman and Boy Scout Organizer
      (pp. 182-183)

      In Jackson, Mississippi, J. R. Chambliss is a legend. People respect him, love him, and swear by him. He was the fifth of twelve children born in a crude log cabin to Marcus and Susan Claiborne Chambliss July 6,1885, near rural Tillman, Claiborne County.¹

      His father, Marcus, was a slave, but he soon learned two matters of great importance—the value of a close-knit Christian family life and the need of an education. These he strove valiantly to provide for his children. He sent his daughters and sons to school in Port Gibson. In 1900 Jessie entered Alcorn A. &...

    • Sam Baker Businessman
      (pp. 183-184)

      The Mississippi branch of the Small Business Administration, a multimillion-dollar agency that assists small enterprise, is supervised by Sam Baker, a graduate of Lanier High School in Jackson and Tougaloo College.¹

      Sam Baker has had a diversified occupational background. Before his March 1980 appointment as director, Baker worked for the SBA for thirteen years until he became vice-president of Commercial Lending at Mississippi National Bank in 1978. He was also a waiter and steward on the Illinois Central Railroad and a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.

      Baker highly recommends civil service careers for minorities because of competitive salary...

    • Vernon Floyd Radio Station Owner
      (pp. 184-185)

      Ambition has been a part of Vernon C. Floyd’s life. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Floyd established on June 7, 1969, the first black owned and operated radio station in Mississippi—WORV-AM in Hattiesburg. Recently, the station received a license to function on AM and FM frequency. While residing in Mobile, where he cofounded another black radio station, Floyd conducted a feasibility survey—within a 150 to 200 mile radius of Mobile—to determine what heavily populated area did not have a radio station, which catered to the black community. Considering his findings, he decided to lay the foundation for his...

    • Charlene Owens Business Magnate
      (pp. 185-185)

      One of few black women in Mississippi to discover the key to success and to acquire management skills is Charlene Owens, the youngest daughter of three children born to Josephine Fairley Washington. Her mother, a self-made community storeowner, instilled in her a sense of racial pride and economic nationalism. Charlene Owens proudly boasted that “her parents, despite economic conditions during her childhood, survived, thereby dispelling the myth that blacks can’t make it.”¹

      The business career of Charlene Owens commenced in the early 1950s when she opened the presently defunct Kiddie Haven Kindergarten, the first black day care center in the...

    • Rose Morgan Beautician
      (pp. 185-186)

      A Shelby, Mississippi, native, Rose Morgan, gained international acclaim as a pioneer in modern beauty culture for black women. Presently, she “supervises a chain of beauty salons operating in New York, Detroit, and Chicago, and has traveled extensively speaking and commentating during fashion and trade shows (television programs), and beauty clinics.” She expanded her business through national mail orders.

      Her career as a beautician and consultant began in New York after graduation from a cosmetology school in Chicago. She founded and serves as president of the New York based Rose Morgan House which is a subsidiary of her Rodelia Corporation....

    • Louise K. Quarles Managing Officer of Illinois Federal Savings and Loan-Chicago
      (pp. 186-186)

      After earning a B.S. degree in business administration from Alcorn College, Louise K. Quarles, a Mississippian, accepted a position with the Federal Wage Stabilization Board before assuming her present title as secretary and managing officer of the Illinois Federal Savings and Loan Association. The Chicago-based company’s assets total more than $27 million. According to Louise K. Quarles, “the field of business is opening wider for women executives and it is most necessary that we (black women) take the opportunity to prove ourselves capable of handling any position we accept.”

      Indeed Quarles’s election to the board of directors for Illinois Federal...

    • Randolph T. Myrick Banker
      (pp. 187-187)

      Another prominent black in banking is Randolph T. Myricks, Mississippi native, who was appointed personal banking officer at M & I (Marshall and Illsley Bank) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Myricks, twenty-eight joined M & I in 1968.¹...

    • Emorrie Jenkins Milwaukee Businessman
      (pp. 187-187)

      Emorrie Jenkins, president of Milwaukee’s first black-owned and operated cab firm, Apex Cab Cooperative Association, Inc., employs one hundred drivers and gives them an equal share in company profits. He predicted that Apex will generate some 175 to 200 full- and part-time jobs at its peak of operation and a minimum cash flow of $1.5 million its first year. Originally from Mississippi, Jenkins is also a mechanic in the Air Force Reserve, having served twelve years of active duty in the Pacific.¹...

    • E. W. Green Successful Farmer
      (pp. 187-187)

      E. W. Green, a wealthy and independent farmer in Jefferson County, began working for ten dollars a month. Ten years later, Green earned sixty dollars a month. Through thrift and budgeting, he acquired one thousand acres of land, eighty head of livestock; his personal and real property was valued at eighty thousand dollars in 1912. He employed seventy workers to harvest his crops, which yielded in 1912 five thousand bushels of corn and forty bales of cotton.¹...

    • Thelma Sanders Fashions and Business
      (pp. 187-188)

      Thelma Sanders, a Jackson native, was one of the pioneers in black-owned retail clothing stores in Jackson. After graduation from Tougaloo College, she did further study at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she earned a certificate in Business Management, Business Law, Principles of Accounting, and Marketing. She is married to Dr. I. S. Sanders, prominent educational, business, and civic leader. Her shop became a mecca for black women interested in the latest fashions. Thelma operated Sanders Women’s Apparel for more than twenty years. She has conducted workshops and career clinics across the state in “Charm and Fashions.”¹

      a a...

    • Naomi Sims Model-Businesswoman
      (pp. 188-188)

      Mississippi-born Naomi Sims, is hailed around the globe as one of the world’s most beautiful women. A famous model, Naomi has appeared as “cover girl” and on editorial and advertising pages of many fashion publications. She also has appeared on several television commercials. She began her modeling career in New York in 1967. She retired from modeling in 1973 to devote her time to the Naomi Sims Collection, which consists of cosmetics for black women. In addition to articles in women’s magazines, she wrote a comprehensive illustrated encyclopedia, All About Health and Beautyfor theBlack Woman, published by Doubleday.¹...

  7. Education

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 189-192)

      Education was of paramount concern and the motivating force within the Mississippi black community before and after freedom. It was the key to enlightenment, the eroding agent of ignorance, and the catalyst to uplifting the black race—economically, socially, and politically. Black leaders viewed education as the economic vehicle to wealth, power, and freedom and as a survival mechanism that would eventually lead to the assimilation of the race into the mainstream of “Dixie America.”

      The unequal distribution of wealth, a disproportionately large rural population, and a racial caste system made universal free public education non-existent in Mississippi before the...

    • John Dewey Boyd President of Alcorn College 1957–1969
      (pp. 193-195)

      Dr. J. D. Boyd, the fourteenth president of Alcorn A. & M. College, was born in Dolorso, a community in rural Wilkinson County, to John and Elizabeth (Fry) Boyd, on September 3,1899.¹ As a youth, he liked the out-of-doors and spent much time in the fields, woods, and streams. He reports that his father often took the time to encourage him to get an education as a necessity for achieving some security.

      After completing high school, Boyd taught elementary school, and later entered Alcorn College, from which he received the B.S. degree in 1931. Following his graduation from college, he...

    • Walter Washington President of Alcorn State University 1969–
      (pp. 195-198)

      Since becoming president of Alcorn State University, the oldest predominantly black land-grant university in the United States, Walter Washington has adhered to its original objective—that is, the maintenance of a first class institution that stresses the pursuit of academic excellence while imparting scientific and practical knowledge in the liberal arts, vocational and industrial technology, and agriculture.¹

      Alcorn State University has experienced academic expansion and physical growth through a $20,000,000 capital improvement plan. To Washington’s credit, positive changes have occurred, including the following: construction of a dairy, swine research center, truck crops research center, biological research buildings, health and physical...

    • B. Baldwin Dansby President of Jackson State College 1927–1940
      (pp. 198-199)

      Dr. B. Baldwin Dansby was a native Georgian who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Atlanta Baptist Seminary, now Morehouse College, in 1906 as valedictorian of his class. Before accepting the position as dean and professor of mathematics at Jackson College in 1911, he had taught high school mathematics at Morehouse and at Florida Baptist Academy, now Florida Memorial College. During his tenure as a teacher at Jackson College, he was granted a year’s leave for graduate study at the University of Chicago under a fellowship grant by the General Education Board of New York.¹

      On October 1,...

    • Jacob L. Reddix President of Jackson State College 1940–1967
      (pp. 199-204)

      On May 2, 1897, to Nathan and Frances (Brown) Reddix was born Jacob Reddix, the youngest of nine sons. Each of the nine was born on the family’s homestead in Vancleave, Mississippi, which the Reddix clan have owned since August 1877. The family roots consist of a racial mixture of Africans, Creoles, and Cajuns.¹

      Race relations in Vancleave, located on the Gulf Coast, contrasted with those in the Natchez area and other parts of the state. In Van-cleave slave labor was not utilized to cultivate cotton, tobacco, or sugar cane. The timber industry attracted free black and white workers, who...

    • John A. Peoples, Jr. President of Jackson State University 1967–1984
      (pp. 204-206)

      John Arthur Peoples, Jr., the son of John A. and Maggie (Rose) Peoples, was born at Starkville on August 26,1926.¹ After receiving his high school diploma from Henderson High School, he enrolled at Jackson State College where he received the bachelor of science degree in 1950,” with highest honor.”

      In 1951 John Peoples joined the faculty of Froebel High School, Gary, Indiana, as a teacher of mathematics, where he remained for the next seven years, serving as principal of the evening school in 1957–1958. In 1958 he was elected assistant principal of the Lincoln Elementary School at Gary and...

    • Earnest A. Boykins, Jr. President of Mississippi Valley State University 1971–1981
      (pp. 206-207)

      Ernest A. Boykins, Jr., was born in Vicksburg on October 5, 1931, and grew up in a family of five children. His early education was obtained at Vicksburg’s St. Mary’s Parochial School where he finished high school in 1949. He received his B.S. in biology from Xavier University (New Orleans) in 1953, and in 1954 accepted a teaching position at Alcorn A. & M. College, where he remained until his election to the presidency of MVSU.¹

      Meanwhile, during that period he traveled and studied intermittently. His studies included receiving the master of science degree in biology at Texas Southern University...

    • Joe Louis Boyer President of Mississippi Valley State University 1982–
      (pp. 208-209)

      Born January 20, 1940, in Florida, Joe Louis Boyer has implemented progressive and traditional programs since assuming the presidency of Mississippi Valley State University. According to Boyer, his main objective is “to provide MVSU students with a better education.” To meet these objectives, he advocates “upgrading entrance requirements for state universities, emphasizing academic achievement by limiting the number of hours students can take when assigned to remedial courses, and activating a fund-raising campaign among MVSU alumni and supporters.”¹

      Boyer promised to improve MVSU’s academic standards and educational programs by instituting a campus curfew for students and by eliminating week-night dances...

    • George A. Owens President of Tougaloo College 1965–
      (pp. 209-211)

      George Owens, son of sharecroppers, was born near Bolton in Hinds County, on February 9, 1919. Despite the usual vicissitudes of black children whose parents were in that particular economic group, George managed to complete the local public schools and attend Jackson College High School. He worked his way through Tougaloo by doing such jobs as chauffeuring the president’s wife and earned an A. B. in economics in 1941.

      Immediately after graduating from Tougaloo, Owens enlisted in the U. S. Army as a private and was honorably discharged in March 1946 as a captain of the Corps of Engineers. In...

    • Laurence C. Jones “The Little Professor”
      (pp. 211-217)

      Laurence C. Jones, founder of Piney Woods Country Life School, came to Mississippi from the mid-west. He explained his decision:

      During my sophomore year I heard our President, Dr. George E. MacLean, use the phrase, Noblesse Oblige, and one day in the botany class Professor Thomas H. MacBride explained to me its meaning. More than ever I realized that because of the superior advantages for schooling that had been mine, I was morally obligated to pass the opportunity on to those less fortunate than myself. I believe I had always had a subconscious desire to engage in the poultry business....

    • Jane Ellen McAllister Pioneer in Black Education
      (pp. 217-222)

      Jane McAllister, the first black woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in education, was born October 24, 1899. She was the daughter of Richard McAllister, a postman, and Flora McClelland McAllister, an 1891 graduate of Jackson State College and a Vicksburg public school teacher for forty-two years.¹

      Reflecting on her childhood, Jane said, “[Jackson State College] President and Mrs. [Charles] Ayer kept in touch with my mother all their lives and guided her in her teaching, and she in turn guided me. They fed her and she fed me—the Bible, Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, theTangletvood...

    • Florence Octavia Alexander Educator
      (pp. 222-223)

      Florence Octavia Alexander has been called the “most influential pioneer woman who dedicated her time and talents in the improvement of educational opportunities for blacks in Mississippi.” Born in Lincoln County, eight miles east of Summit, the third of eleven siblings of Mr. and Mrs. Columbus Alexander, she entered Jackson College as a ninth grade pupil and was graduated as valedictorian in 1912. She worked her way through Hunter College, Columbia University, where she received the bachelor of arts with a major in science. Miss Alexander had previously received the B.S. in education from Hampton Institute and the M.A. in...

    • Cleopatra D. Thompson Renowned Educator
      (pp. 223-226)

      From the Mississippi Delta has come an internationally prominent educator. Born in Egypt, Mississippi, Cleopatra Davenport Thompson set her sights at an early age on navigating the “Red Sea of ignorance” and entering the “Promised Land of knowledge.”

      After graduating from Aberdeen High School, her parents, the late Alonza and Lizzie Blanchard Davenport, and friends encouraged Cleopatra to enter Alcorn A. & M. College, where she received the bachelor of science degree in education in 1932. That same year Thompson embarked on an enviable career that began as an instructor in English and mathematics, basketball coach for boys and girls,...

    • Hazael McFarland Thompson Educator, Civic and Fraternal Leader
      (pp. 226-228)

      Black civic leaders organized fraternal orders to build schools and churches, to assist the poor, and to provide burial services and benefits to its membership and their dependents. One of the most active fraternal orders in Mississippi is the Prince Hall Masons, established by the Reverend Dr. Thomas W. Stringer, a famous churchman, politician and physician. The survival of the fraternal order has been dependent upon consistent and exceptionally capable personalities as the Grand Masters of the group. That was true with Dr. Stringer, the first one, and is signally true with the incumbent, the Honorable Hazael McFarland Thompson.¹


    • William H. Holtzclaw Utica Junior College Founder
      (pp. 228-228)

      Professor William H. Holtzclaw was born June 1870 in Roanoke, Alabama, but like many others he made his mark in Mississippi. His studies at Tuskegee Institute provided an opportunity to demonstrate his exceptional abilities and brilliance which distinguished him for an outstanding career in educational leadership. He became a protégé of Booker T. Washington, whose encouragement and assistance aided him in his chosen labors. After completing his studies at Tuskegee, Holtzclaw continued his studies at Harvard University.¹

      Afterwards he returned south and in 1903 founded Utica Institute, at Utica, Mississippi. Holtzclaw traveled and lectured in interest of the institution gaining...

    • Willa B. Player Educator, Librarian, College President
      (pp. 229-230)

      Born on August 9,1909, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Clarence C. and Beatrice Day Player, Willa B. Player grew up and achieved outside those confines. Player is best known for her outstanding record at Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina, where she began a long and impressive career as instructor of Latin and French and vice-president of instruction, before being promoted to the presidency in 1955.¹

      Her unusual preparation for service in academe commenced in 1929 when she received the B.A. at Ohio Wesleyan University; M.A. from Oberlin (1930); a Certificat d’Etudes from the University of Grenoble, France (1935); a doctorate in...

    • William Arthur Butts University President and Author
      (pp. 230-231)

      William Arthur Butts was born on April 25, 1933, at Kilmichael, to Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester Butts. After receiving his elementary and secondary education, he entered Mississippi Valley State College (MSVC) at Itta Bena, where in 1957 he earned the B.S. degree in political science. His college education was interrupted in 1953 by service in the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged in 1955 with the rank of sergeant.¹

      After two years as a high school teacher, Butts enrolled at Southern Illinois University where he was awarded the master of arts degree in political science in 1962.

      In 1963 he...

    • Edward Allen Jones Linquist, Scholar, Diplomat
      (pp. 231-233)

      The Mississippi Delta is world renowned for the fertility of its soil. Its products are numerous and varied, and so are the talents of its blacks. But none is more gifted and honored than Edward A. Jones, born in 1903 to George H. and Carrie Cox Jones of Indianola. When that family left its traditional moorings, it was Edward’s grandmother that protected him from the ravages of a broken home.¹

      Grandma Ella Lamb owned a small farm. She determined that Edward should have more formal training than that offered at the grammar school of his native Indianola. But, it was...

    • Romeo Benjamin Garrett Educator, Minister, Author
      (pp. 233-236)

      Bradley University held a testimonial dinner, Saturday, October 14, 1972, in its student center, honoring a quarter-century of service to the university and the Peoria Illinois University for Dr. Romeo B. Garrett, Associate Baptist Minister, Professor Emeritus, and Second Vice-President NAACP (Peoria Chapter).

      Beginning in 1977, Bradley University designated the third week in April Romeo Garrett Week as “one of the expressions of the high regard that the black students, professionals, and the communities of Bradley University and Peoria, Illinois, hold for this remarkable man.”¹ Garrett Week celebration consists of a seven-day series of educational, cultural, and social activities. To...

    • Melerson Guy Dunham Educator, Author
      (pp. 236-237)

      A woman endowed with many talents, Melerson Guy Dunham, a native of Walthall County achieved a measure of success in several areas—education, religion, federated clubs, social, civic, and political affairs. After finishing the public schools of Walthall County, she ventured forth to Rust College where she was awarded the bachelor of arts degree. She then taught public school for several years. She returned to studies at Indiana University, received the M.A. in history and subsequently became assistant professor of history at Alcorn A. & M. College, remaining in that position for several years.¹

      Dunham engaged in activities relating to...

    • Charlemae Hill Rollins Librarian, Author
      (pp. 237-238)

      Charlemae Hill was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, on June 20, 1897, to Allen G. and Birdie Tucker Hill. On April 8, 1918, she married Joseph Walter Rollins of Topeka, Kansas. From that union, one child was born, Joseph Walter Rollins, Jr.¹

      As a part of her advanced education, Charlemae Rollins engaged in special studies at the University of Chicago, and later enrolled in special courses in library science at Columbia University.²

      Pursuing a career in library science, Charlemae Rollins compiled an impressive record of dedicated teaching and librarianship. From 1946 to 1960, she taught children’s literature at Roosevelt University....

    • Ruby Stutts Lyells Mississippi’s First Black Professional Librarian
      (pp. 238-239)

      Ruby Stutts Lyells, the daughter of T. F. and Rossie Cowan, is a professional librarian and retail druggist. The Yazoo County native graduated from Alcorn State University and later studied at Hampton Institute and then the University of Chicago Library School where she received the B.S., L.S., and M.A. degrees respectively.¹

      Upon leaving Chicago, Lyells returned to Mississippi and became its first professional black librarian. As head librarian at Alcorn and Jackson State universities and at Atlanta and Jackson (Mississippi) public libraries, she contributed articles to several professional journals, lectured at prominent institutions, and presented papers at professional conferences.


    • Joffre T. Whisenton Education Specialist
      (pp. 239-240)

      Joffre Trumbull Whisenton was born in Hattiesburg, on August 25, 1934. He received his high school training at the Magnolia High School, Moss Point, Mississippi, after which he was graduated from Tougaloo College in 1955. In college his major interests were biology, health, physical education, and recreation. In 1956 he received the M.S. degree in health, physical education, and recreation from Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1968 he was the first black to be awarded the Ph.D. from the University of Alabama, with concentrations in physical education, special education, administration, and curriculum development.¹

      His professional experiences include teaching and administration...

    • William Smith Demby Educator, Agriculturalist, and Civic Leader
      (pp. 240-242)

      William S. “Jack” Demby, one of five children born to William Clarence Demby and Allene Smith Demby of Rodney, Mississippi, grew up on the former campus of Alcorn University, now Alcorn State University. There he finished elementary school, high school, and college, receiving the B.S. in agriculture education in 1927. In 1928 he enrolled at Meharry Medical College’s School of Dentistry but after his first year was forced to withdraw because of financial circumstances.¹

      In 1929 he returned to Mississippi and accepted a position as vocational agriculture teacher. He was later to serve as Farm Security Supervisor, Associate County Agriculture...

    • The J. E. Johnsons Leaders in Education and Racial Advancement
      (pp. 242-245)

      There is an old saying that no matter how far a turtle moves his front feet, his body will not move an iota until it brings up its rear feet. The fact is Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Johnson of Prentiss Institute were totally committed to bringing up the disadvantaged youth of Mississippi long before it became fashionable.

      Jonas Edward Johnson, cofounder of the Prentiss Normal and Industrial Institute, a private junior college, and of Oak Park Vocational School, black high school in Laurel, Mississippi, was born on May 7, 1879, to Charlie and Ella Kaigler Johnson in a rural...

    • Arenia C. Mallory Saints Junior College Founder
      (pp. 245-245)

      Dr. Arenia C. Mallory, founder of Saints Junior College, Lexington, Mississippi, headed that private institution for approximately fifty years. Saints Junior College presently called Saints Academy was established by the Board of Trustees of the Church Of God in Christ (COGIC) in the early 1900s. Mallory guided the college through its formative years and made it a respectable private and religious institution for black youth. Although the college was under the auspices of COGIC, it accepted students of other denominations. Many blacks from throughout the United States received a two-year associate degree from Saints Junior College before it was converted...

    • McKinley Charles Martin Coahoma Junior College President
      (pp. 245-245)

      Dr. McKinley Charles Martin, 1962 honor graduate of Jackson State University and native of Clarksdale, was appointed in 1979 president of his alma mater, Coahoma Junior College, where he had previously served as director of continuing education and registrar. Dr. Martin received his M.A. degree from Delta State and his Ph.D. from Florida State University with a perfect (4.0) grade point average.¹...

    • Joyce Ladner Sociologist and Author
      (pp. 246-246)

      Joyce Ladner, sociologist and author, was born in Waynesboro, but she attended and graduated from Earl Travillon Attendance Center in Forrest County. She received the B.A. degree from Tougaloo College in 1964. She continued her education at Washington University, where she received both the M.A. and the Ph.D. degrees.

      She published many articles in newspapers, anthologies, and professional journals. Her best known books areTomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman(1971); andThe Death of White Sociology(1973). Presently she is professor of sociology at Hunter College in New York. Previously she taught at Howard University, Washington University (St. Louis), and...

    • Gladys Noel Bates Educator
      (pp. 246-246)

      Gladys Noel Bates, Jackson native, influenced the quality of the profession for public school teachers in Mississippi. After graduation from Tougaloo with honors, she earned the M.A. at West Virginia University. For more than a decade she served with superior distinction as editor of theMississippi Teachers Association Journal. One of her greatest achievements was the suit filed in her name for the equalization of salaries for white and black teachers based upon qualifications. That suit generated the legal climate that eventually enabled black teachers in Mississippi to receive the same salaries as their white counterparts. The Jackson Board of...

    • Lou Emma Holloway Historian
      (pp. 246-247)

      Professor Lou Emma Holloway, associate professor of history at Tougaloo College, was appointed in 1974 to the Consolidated Regional Archives Advisory Council of the General Services Administration. Professor Holloway, a native of Rankin County and a graduate of Tougaloo, received her M.A. in history from the University of Denver, a certificate of advanced study in American/Afro-American Studies as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow, and a Wesleyan University Fellow from Wesleyan University. Also, Holloway engaged in graduate work in African studies as an African-American Institute Fellow in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. She was the first female Tallman Professor at Bowdoin...

    • Janice White Sikes Curator
      (pp. 247-247)

      Janice White Sikes, a native Mississippian, migrated to Atlanta, Georgia, and became curator of special collections at Atlanta Public Library. Born to Willie J. and Bonnye Moore White in Meridian, Janice was graduated from Spelman College in 1973 and received her master of library science degree from Atlanta University in 1975. Janice began her career as a librarian at the Atlanta Public Library as a library aide, and was soon promoted to the position of Curator of the Special Collection Department, which houses an extensive collection of rare books, magazines, periodicals, films, newspapers, and other items that re-create the black...

    • Dorothy Gordon Gray Education and Religion
      (pp. 248-248)

      Dorothy Gordon Gray, pioneer and a past-president of the Negro Home Economics Association, was the first black to hold elective office in the integrated Mississippi Home Economics Association. Formerly, she was chairman of the Home Economics Department at Alcorn State University and previously head of the Home Economics Department at Tougaloo College. She also holds prominent positions in the Wesleyan Service Guild of the United Methodist Church and the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference.¹...

    • Julius Eric Thompson Educator
      (pp. 248-248)

      Julius Eric Thompson, a native of Natchez, a graduate of Alcorn State University, with a Ph.D. from Princeton, was a Danforth Fellow in 1969, a Princeton Fellow in 1970, and a Ford Fellow in 1972. He is listed in the 1971 edition of Outstanding Young MenofAmerica, Living Black American Authors (1974), Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans (1974), Personalitiesof theSouth (1974), The Writers Directory (1974), and Contemporary Authors (1974). He is assistant professor of history at Jackson State University and a prominent young scholar.¹...

  8. Literature and Journalism

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 249-251)

      Beginning in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, an embryonic black bourgeoise, expressed disdain for mores and customs of African origin. Prior to that time black writers in the United States had imitated the writing style of white authors and chosen non-racial subject matters for commercial appeal. By the turn of the century the traditional plantation roles of blacks were deplored by many black writers. These writers refrained from using dialect and the mythical images of blacks as Sambos and Uncle Toms. They sought neither to amuse nor to inform their white audiences about the legacy of the African-American...

    • Richard Nathaniel Wright Novelist
      (pp. 252-267)

      Richard Wright achieved the unique distinction of being the first black novelist to acquire fame and fortune in the United States.¹ When one peers into his background and early life, it seems improbable that he would have so nobly achieved. The Wrights were plantation slaves in northwest Adams County, their blood a mixture of white, Indian, and African. When the Civil War ended, Nathaniel Wright, his paternal grandfather, was emancipated and given a plot of land. From the rich soil in Stanton, situated about twelve miles east of Natchez,² his grandfather was able to sustain his family.

      Wright’s illiterate sons...

    • Margaret Walker Alexander Educator and Author
      (pp. 267-269)

      The prize winning black author, Margaret Abigail Walker, was born on July 7,1915, in Birmingham, Alabama, to Sigismund Constantine Walker and his wife Marion Dozier. Walker, a West Indian immigrant, converted to Methodism and became a minister. Her mother, Marion, the daughter of a Baptist minister, was a gifted musician. When Margaret was ten years old, her father accepted a teaching position at Dilliard University and her family moved to New Orleans.¹

      While in New Orleans, Margaret A. Walker launched her literary career. One year after graduating from high school at age fifteen, Margaret published her first poem, “I Want...

    • Anne Moody Author and Civil Rights Activist
      (pp. 269-270)

      Anne Moody (Mrs. Austin Straus), was born in Centreville, Mississippi, where she attended the local public schools. Later she enrolled at Natchez Junior College but received the B.S. degree from Tougaloo College in 1963. While in college she engaged in civil rights activities and worked with the NAACP, CORE, and SNCC on voter registration projects, desegregation of Jackson’s Woolworth Store, and the organization of freedom schools. In 1964 she became a public speaker and fund raiser for the national CORE, and was civil rights project coordinator for Cornell University in 1964–1965. Since, she has devoted herself to being a...

    • Percy Greene Editor, Publisher
      (pp. 270-273)

      “Percy Greene, despite a lot of other things,” asserted one university professor, “must be given the credit for politicizing the Negro in Mississippi, in these modern times.” A historian of the mid-twentieth century wrote: “Mr. Percy Greene, editor and publisher of the Jackson Advocate, was the organizer of the Mississippi Negro Democratic Association. He now (1950) serves as its chief executive. He has been tireless in his effort to bring the Negro of Mississippi into full political participation.”¹

      Percy Greene, one of twelve children, was born in Jackson on September 7, 1898, to George Washington and Sylvia Stone Greene. He...

    • The William A. Scott Family Printers and Publishers
      (pp. 273-277)

      Emmeline Southall, the eldest daughter of Daniel and Amanda Southall, was born in East Liverpool, Ohio, on October 3,1878. As a child, she was shy, obedient and conscientious. The only black enrolled in Latin class, she maintained the highest grade point average throughout her high school tenure. Soon after her graduation from East Liverpool High School, she met and married in 1899 Reverend William Alexander Scott, a graduate of Hiram College in Ohio and a religious, fraternal, and business leader. Thereafter, they moved to Reverend Scott’s hometown, Edwards, Mississippi, where they purchased a printing business in 1900.

      Together, the newlyweds...

    • Lerone Bennett, Jr. Well-known Journalist
      (pp. 277-280)

      The fertile Mississippi Delta has produced a prodigious amount of cotton and blues; it has also produced many of Chicago’s blacks, one of the most distinguished being the articulate, prolific, urbane, Lerone Bennett, senior editor of the nation’s most prestigious black magazine,Ebony. Bennett, often referred to as “resident historian of the Johnson Publishing Company,” was born in Clarksdale, on October 17, 1928, to Lerone Bennett, Sr. and his late wife, the former Alma Reed.¹

      Bennett’s writing career commenced as staff writer with his high school newspaper in Jackson. Also, he edited the race weekly,Mississippi Enterprise. At Morehouse College,...

    • William Dilday Television Manager
      (pp. 280-281)

      In 1964, the United Church of Christ filed suit with the Federal Communication Commision against the Jackson NBC affiliate, WLBT-TV, which was managed by the Lamar Broadcasting Company. The suit was initiated after the reporting of a news segment of the 1960 civil rights demonstration in which the anchorman, laughing, broadcasted, “Look at those nigras run.”¹

      In a landmark decision, the Federal Communication Commission outlawed exclusion of blacks from jobs, and in 1969, the FCC stripped Lamar of its license; thereby paving the way for the sale of the station, WLBT-TV. Communication Improvement, Inc. (CII), an interracial non-profit group appointed...

    • Jessie Mosley Author, Community Leader
      (pp. 281-281)

      Jessie Mosley (Mrs. C. C. Mosley, Sr.) of Jackson, is well-known as a community leader and author. She holds memberships in the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women and is a charter member of the local branch of the National Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Her publication,The Negro in Mississippi History, published in 1950, is a well documented and resourceful, though sketchy, account of Negro life from territorial days through the first quarter of this century.¹...

    • Sarah Harvey Stevens Journalist
      (pp. 281-281)

      Sarah Harvey Stevens is a graduate of Lanier High School in Jackson and the Henderson Business College, Memphis, Tennessee. In the early 1960s she became the first woman editor of a newspaper in Jackson, theMississippi Enterprise. Meanwhile, she became a contributor of theJackson Daily News. The Jackson Business and Professional Women’s Club named her their Woman of the Year and nominated her to Who’s Who Among American Women.¹...

    • William Gordon Foreign Service Correspondent
      (pp. 281-282)

      William Gordon, Senior Foreign Service Officer for the United States Information Agency, headed a group of twenty-five foreign correspondents who toured fourteen different countries in 1974. Their itinerary included six southern states. During their visit to Mississippi, Governor Waller presented Gordon, who was born in Bentonia, the Governor’s Outstanding Mississippian Award for outstanding achievement in journalism.¹ Prior to entering the foreign service Gordon was managing editor of the AtlantaDaily World, a daily newspaper founded by W. A. Scott II, and maintained by the Scott brothers, natives of Mississippi....

  9. The Performing and Visual Arts

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 283-284)

      The history of black music in Mississippi can be traced to its African origin. The ballad, for example, gives a history of black people or ceremonious occasions. Southern blacks utilized musical instruments similar to those of Africans—the banjo, fiddle, drum, rattles, tambourine, and harmonica. Singing became a daily ritual, expressing depression, oppression, resistance, and survival. Gospel music offered inspiration, hope, and escape from enslavement.

      White southerners popularized minstrel shows to project negative images and the inferiority of the black race. White men blackened their faces with burnt cork, used black dialect, and imitated the Sambo plantation slave personality. When...

    • Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield Operatic Performer
      (pp. 285-285)

      Born a slave in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1809, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield gained critical acclaim for her performance in “The Black Swan.” Critics praised her for her “remarkably sweet tones and wide vocal compass.”¹ While still an infant, she was taken to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was adopted by a Quaker, Mrs. Greenfield, who paid for her musical training.

      Elizabeth made her first musical debut in 1851 in Buffalo, New York, where she sang before the Buffalo Musical Association, thereby establishing her reputation as an artist. She was in demand as a performer nationally and internationally. In 1854, she performed before...

    • William Grant Still America’s Greatest Black Composer
      (pp. 285-292)

      One summer evening in 1936 a black man stood before the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted two of his original compositions in the Hollywood Bowl, marking the first time a black American had ever led a major symphony orchestra in the performance of serious music. Again, that same man made history when he became the first to conduct a white radio orchestra in New York City. In 1949 when the New York City Center Opera Company, celebrating its fifth anniversary, presented his opera,Troubled Island(1937), it was the first time an opera composed by a black was performed...

    • Leontyne Price Diva
      (pp. 292-301)

      Leontyne Price’s parents, James Anthony and Katherine Baker Price of Laurel, Mississippi, were childless for thirteen years. James, an erect, dignified, sparrow-thin man, worked as a laborer in local sawmills and as a part-time carpenter. Kate, an iron-willed woman, took to midwifery to increase the family income, working at first for ten dollars per delivery and frequently for a side of bacon or a barrel of peas. On Sundays Kate sang hymns in the choir of St. Paul’s Methodist (Episcopal) Church, where they were regular worshippers. One Sunday morning while so engaged, Kate felt the initial pangs announcing the impending...

    • B.B. King “King of the Blues”
      (pp. 302-311)

      The Mississippi Delta has produced a lion’s share of Blues alumni. But perhaps none is more celebrated than B. B. King—“Bossman,” “Chairman of the Board,” “The Main Man,” “King of the Blues.”

      Riley B. (“I never knew what the B was for”) King, the oldest of five children of Mr. and Mrs. Albert King, was born on September 16, 1925, on a cotton plantation between Itta Bena and Indianola, Mississippi. His parents separated when he was about four years old. His mother went to live in the Mississippi hill country and took him with her. She died when Riley...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • Ellas “Bo Diddley” McDaniel Rock ‘n’ Roll Pioneer
      (pp. 312-315)

      “Bo Diddley” was born Ellas McDaniel, December 30, 1928, in Magnolia, Mississippi, to a mother only sixteen years of age. His father, he never knew. While he was an infant his mother moved to McComb. Unable to support a family, she gave permission to a cousin, Gussie McDaniel, to raise her son. In 1933 McDaniel and young Ellas moved to Chicago.

      Ellas “Bo Diddley” McDaniel’s musical inclination commenced during his youth. At age seven he began violin lessons. When he was thirteen his half-sister gave him his first guitar, to the horror and disappointment of his adopted mother, who wanted...

    • Charley Pride Pioneer Black Country Music Superstar
      (pp. 315-320)

      One of the Mississippi Arts Festival’s biggest attractions was Charley Pride, the handsome, sleepy-eyed, six-foot superstar, who thrills his fans at home and abroad with rich, soulful sounds of country and western music. Numerous journalists and commentators compare him with Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, but country music fans and the industry claim that “Charley Pride, the first of his race recognized as a major talent in the world of country music, has no comparison.” In 1975 he had ten gold albums, as public testimony to his popularity.¹

      Charl Frank Pride was born on March 18, 1943, in the Delta...

    • Arthur Crudup Blues Musician
      (pp. 320-321)

      Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, the Forest, Mississippi, native, epitomized blues music. He was the “premier blues man of his time,” according to Charles W. Tisdale. Without him seventy percent of the popular music today would have a different rhythm, and without his contribution many of the legendary rock idols such as Elvis Presley would have remained in oblivion. According to Tisdale “it was the singing, lyrical, derisive, impudent, high riding style of “Big Boy” Crudup, which catapulted Presley to fame with “That’s Alright” and “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog.” Both songs were written by Crudup.¹

      Although dubbed “the...

    • Frederick O’Neal Actor
      (pp. 321-322)

      Frederick O’Neal was elected the first black president of the professional union, Actors’ Equity Association, a “fitting tribute for his long years of service to the American Theater as both actor and teacher.”¹ Presently, O’Neal is president of the Associated Actors and Artists of America, AFL-CIO and vice-president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

      O’Neal was born August 27, 1908, in Brookville, Mississippi. Following his father’s death in 1919, he migrated with his family to St. Louis, where he completed high school and afterwards appeared in several dramatic productions for the local Urban League.

      In 1927, O’Neal founded the St....

    • James Earl Jones Actor
      (pp. 322-324)

      James Earl Jones was born in Arkabutla, Tate County, Mississippi, on January 17, 1931. His father was Robert Earl Jones, the actor, who deserted his pregnant wife to follow first a prize fighting career and afterwards a career on the stage. His mother, Ruth Williams Jones, eventually divorced her son’s father and remarried, taking her six-year-old son to live with her parents, John and Maggie Connolly, on a farm near Manistee, Michigan. James Jones’s grandparents adopted him, and he saw his mother only occasionally.¹

      For some reason soon after he arrived in Michigan he began to stammer. His speech problem...

    • Richmond Barthé Sculptor
      (pp. 325-325)

      Richmond Barthé, born in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in 1901, was educated at the Chicago Art Institute from 1924 to 1928. His first love was painting, but it was through his experiments with sculpture that he initially gained critical acclaim in 1927. Barthé’s honors continued to accumulate for the next forty years. Shortly thereafter he became renowned as the best known black sculptor living in the United States.¹

      Barthé’s first commissions were busts of Henry O. Tanner, black artist, and Toussaint L’Ouverture, black liberator of Haiti people from French colonialism. The resultant acclaim led to a one-man show in Chicago...

    • Sam Gilliam Painter
      (pp. 325-326)

      Sam Gilliam, a Mississippi-born painter, has produced hanging canvasses which are laced with pure color pigments rather than shades or tones. He combined these pigments in weird configurations on drooping, drapelike canvasses giving the effect, as described by Time magazine, of “clothes drying on a line” . . . his canvasses are designed “like nobody elses, black or white.”¹

      Gilliam, a native of Tupelo, was awarded his M.A. degree from the University of Louisville and in 1966 was the recipient of a National Endowment of Humanities and Arts grant. Subsequently, he has had one-man exhibits at the Washington Gallery of...

    • Lavern Hamberlin Painter, Woodcarver, Sculptor
      (pp. 326-327)

      Lavern Hamberlin, a thirty-four-year-old native of Fayette and mathematics teacher in the Jefferson County School system, is a popular self-taught artist. Hamberlin creates from cypress logs lifesize woodcarvings that are derivatives of African and African-American culture and heritage. With raw wood and his special tools, he chisels away at the woodlogs to create such sculpture as the six foot “Gospel Singer,” purchased by a Woodville, Mississippi, attorney who observed Hamberlin’s art work at a Jefferson Military College crafts show. Another impressive piece of art is his tall sculpture of an African woman carrying a basket on her head. Hamberlin has...

    • Joseph Overstreet Painter
      (pp. 327-327)

      Joseph Overstreet, painter, was born in 1934 in Conehatte, Mississippi. He studied at the California School of Arts and Crafts and participated in “New Black Artist,” an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in 1969. Recently, his canvasses have avoided racial themes to concentrate instead on vivid color and original configuration. Thus, many of his abstractions are based on a medley of African and Indian colors. However, Overstreet’s memorable and artistic pieces are those that depict some aspect of racial subject matter. Of note are “Jazz in 4/4 Time” and “Keep on Keeping On,” both oil on canvas.¹...

    • Beah Richards Author and Actress
      (pp. 327-327)

      Vicksburg native, Beah Richards, author and Broadway actress, has compiled a long and impressive acting career. Beah starred in the Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun. She also gave impressive performances in such film successes asMiracle Worker, Purlie, Hurry Sundown, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,andMahogany.Her TV productions include: “Room 222,” “The Bill Cosby Show,” “Ironside,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “A Dream for Christmas.” In addition, Beah Richards found time to author a book of poetry, Black Woman Speaks, and a play, One is a Crowd.¹...

    • William Fischer Composer
      (pp. 327-328)

      Born in 1935 in the Mississippi Delta, William Fischer—a performer, composer-arranger, and musical director—was educated at Xavier University (Louisiana), Colorado College, and the Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria. He was the recipient of numerous awards, such as a German State grant, Deutsches Atcademischer Austauschdienst, Rockefeller Foundation grant, and a Fullbright fellowship. His compositions include several works for solo piano, solo viola, solo saxophone, and chamber groups; five for symphony orchestra; two concertos for jazz quintet and symphony orchestra; three operas, several songs, a few with lyrics by black poets, and four electronic pieces. His electronic works are...

    • Frederick Douglass Hall Music Educator
      (pp. 328-328)

      An organist and music educator, Frederick Douglass Hall wrote compositions for voice and piano, chorus, and chorus with orchestra. Hall, a graduate of Morehouse College, received additional musical-training at Chicago Musical College, Columbia University, and Royal College of Music in London. He earned his Ph.D. in music education from Columbia Teacher‘s College in 1952. His musical career and teaching experiences include serving as director of music at Jackson State College, Clark College in Georgia, Alabama A & M College, and Dillard University. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists and continues a successful and distinguished music career.¹...

    • Raeschelle Potter Opera Singer
      (pp. 328-328)

      Raeschelle Potter, who first sang in New Bethel Baptist Church in Biloxi, signed a two-year contract with the reputable Graz Opera Company in 1974 and left for Austria to start rehearsals forDon Giovanni. The Gulfport native, a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois University, sang leading roles in the university’s operas and won grants from WGN-Chicago and the American Opera Guild. Afterwards she performed a number of supporting roles at the Metropolitan. She now chooses to perform in Europe until she is assured of leading roles in American opera.¹...

    • Lucia Hawkins Opera Starlet
      (pp. 329-329)

      Lucia Hawkins, an off-Broadway soprano artist toured the circuit with the “Porgy and Bess” Trio; in collaboration with Avon Long, the original Sportin’ Life, and Levern Hutcherson as Porgy, she sang in a presentation entitled “Highlights of Opera and Broadway.” The trio received excellent reviews in national and international theatrical circles.

      As a soloist, the Vicksburg native has appeared as a guest performer at Radio Center Music Hall, the Saskatoon Symphony in Canada, and on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show, and the Symphony of the Air. During the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson administrations, she sang at the White...

    • Albert King Performer
      (pp. 329-329)

      Albert King, native of Indianola, grew up on a dirt farm in Arkansas after the separation of his parents. “When I was young,” he unabashedly says, “We couldn’t afford a Christmas tree. We were real, real poor.” That may well be the reason why the 255-pound, six-foot-four hushed-voiced King, declared war in 1976 on the then rising disco mania and was doing his best to put the blues back into the main stream of American music.

      Like other black musicians, Albert King produces emotional lyrics of rejected love and mental and economic depression. He carries a V-shaped guitar named “Lucy.”...

    • Little Milton Blues Singer
      (pp. 330-330)

      “Little Milton,” as he is professionally known, was born Milton Campbell in Inverness, where he, like most of his contemporaries, spent his childhood plowing, picking, and chopping cotton. Like most black singers he began singing in church. At fifteen he got his first job in a night club singing for $1.50 a night. Later he made “big money” at $3.00 a night. After recording his first songs “Somebody Told Me” and “Alone ‘N Blue,” he moved from one record label to another. In 1973 his Stax recordings were among America’s best sellers.¹...

    • Levion Dillon Pianist
      (pp. 330-330)

      Blind pianist, Levion Dillon, a Tylertown native, was attracted to the piano by a fellow classmate at the Piney Woods School. From Piney Woods, Dillon launched his professional career with his first performance at the Club Riviera in St. Louis, Missouri, with Dinah Washington in 1949.

      Dillon played in every major city from New York to Los Angeles. He performed with such notables as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and others. Currently, he enjoys a semi-retirement in Vicksburg, where he is featured regularly at the piano and organ in a popular restaurant.¹...

    • Ike Turner Soul Singer
      (pp. 330-331)

      One of the most popular husband and wife teams in “hard rock and hot buttered soul” of the nineteen-sixties was Ike and Tina Turner. Ike, the son of a minister, was born in Clarksdale, where he played the piano “in a church lady’s house.” The lady allowed him to play in return for cutting wood. After selecting and playing a few notes of “Blues in the Night” and other tunes that were popular at the time, he begged his mother to buy him a piano. When school closed that year, he took home a better than average report card. Soon...

    • Bukka White Bluesman
      (pp. 331-331)

      In 1977 Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White, one of the last of the W. C. Handy-era bluesmen, died at the age of 89. The Houston, Mississippi, native known for his gravely voice and trainlike rhythms on his steel-bodied guitar, musically trained a number of blues musicians who graduated to the top. One contemporary star, Bob Dylan, recorded one of his tunes.¹...

    • Bobby Bryant Trumpeter
      (pp. 331-332)

      Bobby Bryant, Hattiesburg trumpet specialist returned to his native city on May 11, 1971, and packed the University of Southern Mississippi Auditorium in a concert of contemporary music, featuring jazz mixed with blues, rock, and soul. He was assisted by the University Jazz Lab Band and the Greenbacks.

      Bryant had organized his own dance band by the time he entered high school. In 1957 he earned a bachelor of music degree with a major in trumpet. The top studio trumpet player in the Hollywood area and top trumpeter for the NBC Orchestra on the West Coast, Bryant also played a...

  10. Religion

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 333-335)

      The cornerstone of Mississippi black communities has historically been and still is the black church. Political, social, cultural, and economic affairs emanated from this religious structure. The church provided the necessary training for preachers who espoused biblical truths, moral welfare, political action, civil rights, and economic nationalism. Orators and politicians received lessons in oral and written communication, acquired skills in forensic arts, and learned to appeal to the emotions—fear, hate, and love. Actors, musicians, and songsters were taught drama, prose, acting, musical compositions, lyrics, and rhythms. Through the church adults and children learned to read and write as well...

    • Alexander Preston Shaw Bishop
      (pp. 336-337)

      On April 18, 1879, in Abbeville, Lafayette County, in a log cabin that was the Methodist parsonage, a son was born to the Reverend Duncan Preston and Marie Petty Shaw. He was named Alexander Preston.

      Young Preston received his early training in the public schools of Lafayette County. Later, he enrolled for his preparatory and college training at Rust College in Holly Springs, where in 1902 he received his bachelor’s degree. In 1906 Shaw received his bachelor of divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia, and he did graduate studies at Boston University.¹

      Shaw answered the call to...

    • Sherman Lawrence Greene, Sr. Sublime Churchman
      (pp. 337-341)

      Natural forces destroyed the original site in Warren County, where on June 15, 1886, Delia Greene presented her husband Henry with their seventh child, Sherman Lawrence. Sherman grew to be a man of six feet, one inch in height, weighing 230 pounds. His father, a former slave and pioneer rural preacher, and his mother, a faithful and devout churchwoman, reared their seven sons and one daughter in a Christian environment.¹

      When Sherman reached age eleven he revealed his ambition to enter the ministry of the African Methodist piscopal Church. After finishing the Warren County Schools, he enrolled at Alcorn A....

    • Lucy C. Jefferson Business, Club, and Religious Leader
      (pp. 341-342)

      Lucy Crump Jefferson, a stalwart of the black community, was born in Jackson on November 3, 1866. During her youth, Lucy’s parents moved to Vicksburg, where she completed her primary and secondary education. She achieved honor for her leadership skill and academic excellence.¹

      The Crumps were devout Christians who greatly influenced Lucy’s commitment to religious endeavors. As a child, Lucy joined Bethel A.M.E. Church, where she held several distinguished positions and actively participated as a member of the Missionary Society, trustee board, secretary to the board of stewardesses, and president of the Women’s Christian Union of Vicksburg. As president, she...

    • H. Hartford Brookins Bishop, Civil Rights Activists, Humanitarian
      (pp. 342-345)

      As a small child, H. Hartford Brookins was up at five o’clock every morning working in the cotton fields, milking cows, and feeding chickens alongside his parents, seven brothers, and two sisters. He hated it and was determined to improve his lot in life.

      From those humble beginnings, Brookins managed to work his way through school, obtaining degrees from Wilberforce University and Payne Theological Seminary in Ohio, an awesome accomplishment for the son of a black sharecropper from near Yazoo, Mississippi. He is presently a bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the largest black church in the world. He...

    • Homer C. McEwen, Sr. Minister
      (pp. 345-346)

      In 1946 the Reverend Homer Clyde McEwen, Sr., came to Atlanta, Georgia, as the youthful minister of First Congregational Church—a church, according to McEwen, “that was feeling a little cocky, although the Ku Klux Klan still marched by it occasionally.” He and his wife soothed their relatives’ fears by saying they would probably stay no longer than three years. June 1979, after thirty-three years of service, Dr. McEwen became the first minister to retire from First Congregational Church.¹

      McEwen was born December 4, 1913, in Aberdeen, Mississippi, to Julia Clay and Reverend Beverly Tolbert McEwen. His father was an...

    • Joseph Harrison Jackson Preacher, Administrator
      (pp. 347-349)

      In 1953 at Miami, Florida, Joseph H. Jackson was elected president of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A. Incorporated, the world’s oldest and largest organization of black Baptists, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. At that time the group boasted of a membership of over six million and about a dozen different national boards. The organization established a publishing house that reported 1974 sales totaling more than two million dollars, exceeded only by the giant Southern Baptist and the United Methodist Publishing Houses. Prior to 1974, the “stogy old Baptist Convention, which for many years, under beloved but aging and therefore less-than-vigorous leadership,...

    • L. Venchael Booth Founder and Past President, Progressive Baptist Convention, Inc.
      (pp. 349-351)

      Frederick and Mamie Powell Booth of Collins, Covington County, had four children, three boys and one girl, including Lavaughn Venchael Booth who was born on January 7, 1919. His father, a member of the deacon’s board, made religion a meaningful part of their daily existence. And his children attended school regularly. When Lavaughn completed high school, he enrolled at Alcorn A. & M. College and received his B.S. degree in 1940.¹

      Prior to attending college, Lavaughn had experienced a call to the ministry. Determined to prepare himself spiritually, he attended Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia; after his first year...

    • Mae Frances Spencer Church Worker
      (pp. 351-352)

      Mae Frances Spencer, a native Mississippian and former educator in the state, is a regional staff member for the United Methodist Church, serving as liaison between the New York office and her relating conferences.¹ Spencer, an employee within the women’s division of the Board of Global Ministers of the United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., is responsible for nine conferences covering six states on the East Coast....

  11. Science, Medicine, and Social Work

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 353-354)

      Unequal rights and opportunities in education and jobs have kept Negroes from gaining the knowledge and experience necessary for scientific achievement. This is especially true of the black experience in Mississippi. For too long, blacks were denied an education; many could not obtain knowledge in the natural sciences because of Jim Crowism. Only a very few, such as George Washington Carver, managed to achieve without formal training. Unjust laws prevented black inventors from receiving patents for their inventions or discoveries. Under the institution of slavery blacks were considered not citizens but chattel; therefore, the government could not enter into an...

    • Sidney D. Redmond Physician-Surgeon, Lawyer-Politician
      (pp. 355-360)

      Charles and Esther Redmond, sharecroppers, lived on a remote farm in Holmes County near Ebenezer, Mississippi. Formerly slaves, they were poor but ambitious, black but possessing a profound sense of race pride. They had six children, two of whom became medical doctors; two others completed college. Their son, Sidney Billion Redmond, was born in a two-room log cabin in the backwoods of Holmes County on October 11, 1871.¹

      Redmond’s early educational opportunities were very meager, because of working and living so far from the nearest school, which opened only five or six weeks a year. As a result, he was...

    • L. T. Miller Delta Doctor-Humanitarian
      (pp. 361-364)

      Prior to the Civil War, a slave named Wash Miller, married a mulatto, named Emily. Emily worked in the prestigious antebellum mansion, Melrose, of Natchez. That marriage produced several children, of whom three were girls. Thereafter, Wash’s master moved to California and took his slave with him. However, Wash’s wife and children remained with her master. Wash was allowed to save his earnings to purchase his freedom and that of his wife and children.¹ After emancipation, Wash was given the funds he had saved, and he returned to Natchez.

      One day, as Rachel, Emily’s and Wash’s youngest daughter, was playing...

    • George H. Lane Physician
      (pp. 364-364)

      George H. Lane, born July 2, 1902, in Jonestown, Mississippi, completed grammar and secondary school as well as undergraduate studies at Alcorn State University. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Alcorn, he matriculated at and received his medical degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. Upon completion of his internship, Lane opened general practice at Greenwood in 1932.

      Lane, did not remain in Mississippi but migrated to Milwaukee, where he combined his work in internal medicine with cardiovascular diseases. After a great deal of hard work, Lane succeeded in establishing a Sickle Cell Center at Milwaukee’s Deaconess Hospital.¹...

    • Deborah Hyde-Rowan Neurosurgeon
      (pp. 364-365)

      A thirty-four year old native of Laurel, Mississippi, Deborah Hyde-Rowan, is presently a neurosurgeon at the Guthrie clinic, a medical institution in Sayre, Pennsylvania. Her clientele includes individuals within the forty-county area of rural northeastern Pennsylvania and south central New York. According to Marilyn Marshall, an editor withEbonymagazine, there are only 3,300 neurosurgeons in America, and less than 60 are black and even fewer are women. Neurosurgery, a highly specialized field, encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of injuries and disorders affecting the nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.¹

      Dr. Rowan, the daughter of Ann...

    • Eliza J. Pillars State Health Department Nurse
      (pp. 365-366)

      In an effort to reduce sickness and death among blacks, the Mississippi State Board of Health hired in 1923 Eliza J. Pillars, a graduate of the School of Nursing-Hubbard Hospital, Meharry College. For decades, Mississippi had a large black population, low economic status, and the highest infant and maternal morbidity among blacks in America. In the late 1930s, eighty percent of black babies born in the state were delivered by midwives who lived on plantations, remote sections in the backwoods, and small towns; therefore, Eliza J. Pillars’s task was to make the midwives more efficient and safe. With the assistance...

    • Rhetaugh G. Dumas Psychiatric Nurse
      (pp. 367-367)

      Rhetaugh G. Dumas, a Natchez native, began her professional career as a nurse-teacher in the public schools of Mississippi. After that, she served as professor and chairman of Yale University‘s psychiatric nursing program, where she combined teaching, research, and nursing. Later, she accepted the directorship of Nursing Service at Connecticut Mental Health Center. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) under the auspices of the Department of Health Education and Welfare appointed Dumas Chief of Psychiatric Nursing Training.¹

      Her duties as director entailed conducting extensive research in various areas related to mental health and supervising graduates in training for psychiatric...

    • Jessie O. Thomas Pioneer Social Worker
      (pp. 368-373)

      Jessie O. Thomas, a pioneer social worker born in Pike County, Mississippi, December 21, 1885, was the second child in a family of six children—four boys and two girls. Until the advent of the Civil War, his parents were labeled as slaves. When emancipation seemed inevitable, they exchanged their plantation existence for that of sharecropping and tenant farming. Since there was an abundance of food and livestock on their property, Jessie assumed that his family was economically secure.¹

      On one particular day Jessie was shocked to learn that his family did not own the land that they cultivated. His...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • Lucille Price Social Worker
      (pp. 373-374)

      Lucille Price, member of a distinguished Natchez family, was Mississippi’s first black professional social worker. During the depths of the Great Depression she worked with the Works Project Administration (WPA) in Mississippi and was the only worker who remained throughout the 1930s.¹

      Price completed requirements for the baccalaureate degree at Tougaloo College. Later, at Atlanta University, she took a “crash course” in social work which was administered by the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), to prepare personnel to handle the mass of unemployed, aged, and destitute people. Governor Paul Johnson believed that Hinds, Warren, and Bolivar counties should have “colored” social...

    • Cleo Walter Blackburn Social Worker, Minister
      (pp. 374-376)

      Cleo Blackburn was born near Port Gibson, in Claiborne County, to David and Sarah (Sneed) Blackburn, on September 27, 1909. His grandfather, once a slave, was emancipated after he rescued his master’s daughter from a runaway horse. The ex-slave then became an ordained minister of the Disciples of Christ. His grandson, Cleo, also affiliated with the same faith. He practiced and applied his faith to the betterment of mankind.¹

      Sarah Blackburn, a school teacher, made sure that Cleo received the best elementary education available. He attended Southern Christian Institute at Edwards and planned to enroll in college. However, disaster struck....

    • Walter Massey Physicist
      (pp. 376-376)

      The former dean of the college at Brown University, Walter Massey, a native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, was appointed Director of the Argonne (Illinois) National Laboratory, a top United States Defense Department research facility. Dr. Massey, a Morehouse graduate, is also a faculty member within the physics department at the University of Chicago.

      Argonne Laboratory, located twenty-five miles southwest of downtown Chicago, is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s major research centers. Dr. Massey is the primary supervisor of more than fifty employees and manages a million dollor-plus budget.¹...

    • Natalia Tanner Cain Ephebiatricist
      (pp. 376-377)

      Natalia Tanner Cain, presently of Detroit, Michigan, is a pioneer in ephebiatrics—one of five hundred multi-disciplined professionals nationwide who are members of the Society of Adolescent Medicine, which concentrates on treating teen-agers and their illnesses. Dr. Cain was born in Jackson in 1923.¹...

    • Margaret Lawrence Child Psychologist
      (pp. 377-377)

      Dr. Margaret Lawrence, is currently a practicing child psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Harlem Hospital Center in New York and an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has received numerous awards and completed extensive research in her field. In 1975 she spoke at the annual meeting of the Hinds County Association for Mental Health. Originally from Mississippi, Dr. Lawrence now lives in Pomona, New York.¹...

    • Gwendolyn Nero Loper Social Worker
      (pp. 377-377)

      Gwendolyn Nero Loper, Greenwood native, is a social worker at Jackson Veteran’s Administration Hospital and a field instructor for Mississippi University for Women. She served as the first black president of the Jackson Young Women’s Christian Association and the first black appointee to the State Board of Mental Health. In addition to her professional responsibilities, Gwendolyn Loper is a prominent civic and religious leader.¹...

    • Georgie Catchings Coleman Nurse Anesthesiologist
      (pp. 377-378)

      Recognized as a woman with a mission, Georgie Catchings Coleman, a nurse anesthesiologist, commanded the respect of surgeons, physicians, nurses, and others with whom she worked. Formerly, an instructor of operating-room procedures in the New York City Hospital, she followed a suggestion to study anesthesiology and entered a program at Bellevue Hospital, where after graduation she remained as an instructor in that program.

      In 1970, Coleman, a Jackson native returned to Mississippi and taught in the nurse- anesthesiology program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. One year later, the university’s trustee appointed her chairperson of that program. As chairperson,...

    • Jennifer O. Hicks Obstetrics and Gynecology Specialist
      (pp. 378-378)

      Jennifer O. Hicks, a native of Vicksburg and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt Hicks, was appointed in July 1983 to the staff of the Claiborne County Community Health Center as obstetrics and gynecology specialist.

      A graduate of Rosa A. Temple High School in Vicksburg, Dr. Hicks obtained the bachelor degree from Jackson State University and M.D. degree from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. While a student at Meharry Medical College, the student body elected her Miss Meharry in 1977. She also received the Robert Wood Johnson and Public Health Service scholarship.

      Prior to joining the Claiborne County...

  12. Sports

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 379-380)

      Among blacks, the realm of sports has provided the opportunity for success, escape from slums, and the avenue for fame and fortune. Yet, sports perpetuated the myth of blacks’ brawn and whites’ brains. Black athletes were generally viewed as nonintellectuals, symbolized as potent studs, and utilized as objects. In very few instances, did black athletes rise above these negative images. The media and the power brokers in recounting the lives of the black athletes never emphasized their academic achievements, service to the community, or capacity to engage in another profession.

      For decades, blacks were excluded from professional sports beyond the...

    • Walter Payton Professional Football Record Breaker
      (pp. 381-386)

      Born under the sign of Leo, July 25,1954, to Peter and Alyne Payton, Walter Jerry Payton grew up on the dusty streets of Columbia, Mississippi. There, evading the night watchman, he and playmate, Damon Earl, ran barefoot through the pickle factory located next to his home. Alone, Payton jumped aboard the flatbed freight cars as they eased through town or impersonated Sir Lancelot, Zorro, or Robin Hood. On one occasion he opted for solitude and fantasy football as Payton played to a cheering imaginary crowd in his backyard. “I’d throw up the ball, pretend it was a kickoff,” reminisced Payton,...

    • Lusia Harris Stewart Delta State’s Lady Statesman
      (pp. 387-388)

      The athletic teams at Cleveland’s predominantly white Delta State University (DSU) call themselves “Statesmen.” In 1974 Lusia Harris, who prefers to be called “Lucy,” was the first and only black basketball player to be recruited. Her statesmanship was never in question as she led the virtually unknown Delta State to three state championships, two regional titles, two national championships, and was a member of the Pan-American and U.S. Olympic Women’s Teams.

      Lucy the basketball phenomenon and the seventh of nine siblings, grew up on a vegetable farm in Minter City, population 200, located about 24 miles east of Cleveland. The...

    • Pete Brown Professional Golfer
      (pp. 388-389)

      Of the few top black golfers, Pete Brown, born near Port Gibson, ranks high. In 1964 Pete Brown won the Waco Turner Open, the first PGA tournament ever won by a Negro. But to fully appreciate Pete Brown one has to remember that at age twenty-four he was cut down by polio, after his biggest success to that time, the 1956 Michigan Open. “Everything he strived for seemed lost. And he was lost, over 1,000 miles from home, penniless, virtually friendless. But Pete Brown dared to hope . . . dared to persevere . . . dared to envision rising...

    • Spencer Haywood Basketball Superstar
      (pp. 389-389)

      Spencer Haywood, basketball superstar, native of Silver Springs, led the U.S. to the gold medal in basketball at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. He matriculated at the University of Detroit but signed with the ABA’s Denver Rockets after his sophomore season. He quickly became the ABA’s leading scorer and rebounder, its Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year (1970). Supposedly several ABA teams propositioned Haywood to leave Denver during that season. When Rocket-owner, Bill Ringsby, learned of those behind the scenes maneuvers, he “rewarded” his young star with a new six-year contract reportedly valued at $1.9 million. Over...

    • Eugene Short Basketball Pro
      (pp. 389-390)

      Eugene Short of Hattiesburg, the six foot, five inch forward, led Jackson State University’s basketball team to a number one ranking in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, polls in 1975. After pleading financial hardship, he signed what is believed to be the richest pack contract ever inked by a Mississippian, when he joined the New York Knickerbockers of the National Basketball Association. The contract, negotiated for Short by Hattiesburg attorney Bud Holmes, was a long-term agreement worth just over one million dollars. Short spent only two years in the NBA, however, before he was traded to the Seattle Supersonics....

    • George Scott All-Star Baseball Player
      (pp. 390-390)

      George Scott, one of the best known Mississippi athletes, started his baseball career as a youngster, using old broom handles for bats and cheap balls with sawdust stuffings. He is now making in excess of $ 100,000 per year as a member of the Boston Red Sox and is a favorite in the traditional All-star game.

      After graduating from Greenville’s Coleman High, Scott stated that approximately sixty colleges offered him baseball scholarships. UCLA even wanted me to go out there and play baseball. But the lure of immediate cash as a pro-baseball player proved too great for Scott to refuse,...

    • Mildrette Netter Track Gold Medalist
      (pp. 390-390)

      Mildrette “Midge” Netter, Rosedale native, has received many honors as Mississippi’s most prominent female athlete, including a Gold Medal at the 1968 Olympics. Alcorn track coach, Dr. G. A. Dungee, declared Netter as one of the best women athletes he has ever coached, notwithstanding the fact that he has served twice as the U.S. Olympic female track coach. She obtained the B.S. and M.Ed, in physical education from Alcorn State University.¹...

  13. Military

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 391-392)

      Although black Mississippians have fought and died for America’s freedom out of a sense of patriotism—voluntarily, in most instances—it took approximately eight wars and 300 years before they and other blacks gained any semblance of equality in the military. On July 26,1948, President Harry S. Truman issued executive order number 9981 which declared that “there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible. . . .”¹

      From the French and Indian War...

    • Thomas J. Money, Jr. Military Officer-Community Leader
      (pp. 393-394)

      Thomas J. Money, Jr., United States Air Force, retired, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi. After graduation from Magnolia Avenue High School in 1935, he enrolled in Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, where he received a B.S. degree in June 1939. In September 1939, he attended Atlanta University where he remained one semester before accepting employment with the Welfare Administration, Chicago, Illinois.¹

      Colonel Money was drafted into the armed services on March 7, 1941. Upon completion of basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas, he was retained as an instructor and battalion clerk. In 1941 he was transferred to the Army Air Corps...

    • Jesse Leroy Brown First Black Naval Aviator
      (pp. 395-398)

      Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on October 13, 1926, Jesse Leroy Brown, one of five children—four boys and a girl—of Alice Brown a school teacher, and John Brown, a farmer, became the first black naval aviator. Described as a serious, witty, unassuming, and very intelligent individual, Brown graduated from Eureka High School in Hattiesburg as salutatorian of his class. While in high school, Brown was a member of the basketball, football, and track team. After graduation, he matriculated at Ohio State University’s college of engineering, where he maintained a straight “A” average for three years, prior to enlisting in...

    • John Mitchell Brown Brigadier General, United States Army
      (pp. 398-399)

      A native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, John Mitchell Brown, who was born December 11, 1929, received his B.S. degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy and the M.B.A. degree in comptrollership from Syracuse University. Later he matriculated at the University of Houston, where he completed the advanced management program. Realizing the importance of superior military training, Brown successfully completed basic and advanced courses in military science at the army’s infantry school. Soon afterward, he continued his military education at the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.¹

      Because of his...

    • Modis A. Smiley National Guard
      (pp. 399-400)

      Specialist Four Modis A. Smiley of Philadelphia became the first black Mississippi National Guardsman to receive the state’s Magnolia Cross award and a medal for an act of valor. The presentation was made by Governor Waller and Major General E. A. Beby, adjutant general of Mississippi. He joined the Mississippi National Guard in 1970. Awards are not new to Smiley, pastor of the Bakley Avenue Church of Christ in Philadelphia. A veteran of the Korean War, he holds the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, the United Nation’s Service Medal, and a National Defense Service Medal. This most recent...

    • Glennie M. Rowland First Female Officer-ASU
      (pp. 400-400)

      Few females, black or white, have been allowed in the heirarchy of the military until recently. Today, they are few in number. Among that group is Major Glennie M. Rowland, a native of Lake, Mississippi. The Military Police Corps Branch Officer received a bachelor degree in business administration from Mississippi Valley State University and a masters degree in criminal justice from Troy State University in Alabama. Before becoming the first female officer assigned to the teaching staff at Alcorn State University, Major Rowland served as First battalion executive officer for the First battalion School Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia. At...

    • Daniel L. Jennings Viet Nam Veteran
      (pp. 400-400)

      Claiborne county native, Daniel L. Jennings, retired as one of the most decorated men of the Viet Nam War. While serving in Viet Nam, Jenning’s valor was exemplified in the number of medals awarded the United States Army such as the Silver Star, Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, two Purple Hearts, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.¹...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 401-442)
  15. Appendix
    (pp. 443-452)
  16. Index
    (pp. 453-468)