African American

Minnie Geddings Cox and the Indianola Affair, 1902-1904 Lesson Plan

Overview

In January 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to accept the resignation of Minnie Geddings Cox, postmistress for the city of Indianola and Mississippi’s first African American postmistress. Roosevelt subsequently closed Indianola’s post office, and it remained closed for more than a year. The newspapers called the incident the “Indianola Affair.” Raised by business owner parents and educated at one of the premier schools for aspiring African American women, Cox sought opportunities beyond the traditional expectations for women of the time.

Minnie Geddings Cox and the Indianola Affair, 1902-1904

Theme and Time Period

In January 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt refused to accept the resignation of Minnie Geddings Cox, postmistress for the city of Indianola and Mississippi’s first African American postmistress. Roosevelt subsequently closed Indianola’s post office, and it remained closed for more than a year. The newspapers referred to the post office closing as the “Indianola Affair.” Cox’s role in the Indianola Affair, however, has been reduced to a footnote in early twentieth-century United States history.

The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools

Theme and Time Period

The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer was perhaps the most ambitious extended campaign of the entire Civil Rights Movement. Over the course of roughly two months, more than 1,000 volunteers arrived in Mississippi to help draw media attention to the state’s Black freedom movement, to register African American voters, and to teach in Freedom Schools that were established to supplement the inferior educational opportunities provided to black youths in the state’s public schools.

Free People of Color in Colonial Natchez (1700-1798)

Theme and Time Period

The history of the Colonial Natchez District, Mississippi’s most successful early European settlement, is one frequently told through the eyes and accounts of White settlers. Yet, Natchez was built primarily through the backbreaking work of enslaved Africans. During Natchez’s first century, people from Europe and Africa, along with Native Americans, struggled with each other over land, labor, and wealth. However, not all Africans in Natchez were enslaved.

The Truth About the Boll Weevil

Theme and Time Period

During the early 1900s, the boll weevil threatened the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta and put the state’s cotton kingdom in peril. Surprisingly, planters believed that the best way to defend their cotton from the weevil was to protect their place on top of the racial and social ladder in the Delta. James Giesen’s research reveals the ways in which the beliefs of White landowners concerning race and labor shaped the approach of Delta planters to their agricultural environment and its pests.

The Carroll County Courthouse Massacre, 1886: A Cold Case File

Theme and Time Period

In 2011 Mississippi newspapers reported that during the mid-20th century civil rights movement, more than one hundred Mississippi African Americans were victims of assault or murder, yet no  perpetrators, many of them unknown, were identified or convicted.

1961 in Mississippi: Beyond the Freedom Riders

Theme and Time Period

Mississippi had pockets of strong local civil rights activity before the Freedom Riders entered the state, but their presence in 1961 propelled the local movement to new heights.

1961 in Mississippi: Beyond the Freedom Riders Lesson Plan

OVERVIEW

Prior to the involvement of national initiatives in the 1960s, such as the Freedom Rides, local people worked to bring an end to discrimination in their communities. These efforts were led out of public view in private homes, churches, and small businesses. For this reason, the early local leaders of the Civil Rights Movement are often overlooked in history.

Aaron Henry: A Civil Rights Leader of the 20th Century

Theme and Time Period

Aaron Henry was born in 1922 in Coahoma County, Mississippi, the son of sharecroppers. From a young age, he worked in the cotton fields alongside his family on the Flowers Plantation outside of Clarksdale. He remembered those years vividly when he recalled, “As far back as I can remember, I have detested everything about growing cotton.” Regardless of his early hardships, education was a priority for the Henry family.