African American

Isaiah T. Montgomery, 1847-1924 (Part II)

Theme and Time Period

The Political Life of Isaiah T. Montgomery

Isaiah T. Montgomery might be called Mississippi’s Booker T. Washington. Though Montgomery was not as famous or as influential, his life and work in many other respects closely paralleled that of the great educator at Tuskegee Institute, a college for Black people in Alabama.

Isaiah T. Montgomery, 1847-1924 (Part I)

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The Life and Times of Isaiah T. Montgomery

Isaiah Thornton Montgomery was born enslaved on May 21, 1847, at Hurricane Plantation on Davis Bend, now Davis Island, below Vicksburg, Mississippi. This large and fertile estate near the Mississippi River was one of several Davis Bend plantations owned by Joseph E. Davis, elder brother of Jefferson Davis, the future president of the Confederate States of America.

Medgar Evers and the Origin of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi

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Mississippi became a major theatre of struggle during the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century because of its resistance to equal rights for its Black citizens. Between 1952 and 1963, Medgar Wiley Evers was perhaps the state’s most impassioned activist, orator, and visionary for change. He fought for equality and fought against brutality.

Fannie Lou Hamer: Civil Rights Activist

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When young civil rights workers arrived in Ruleville in the Mississippi Delta in 1962, they were looking for local Black people who could help convince their neighbors to register to vote. They found forty-four-year-old Fannie Lou Hamer.

Ida B. Wells: A Courageous Voice for Civil Rights

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Ida Bell Wells (1862-1931), one of the most important civil rights advocates of the 19th century, was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, just before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. She was the first child of James Wells, an apprentice carpenter, and Elizabeth Warrenton, a cook.

The Forks of the Road Slave Market at Natchez

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In the decades prior to the American Civil War, market places where enslaved Africans were bought and sold could be found in every town of any size in Mississippi.  Natchez was unquestionably the state’s most active slave trading city, although substantial slave markets existed at Aberdeen, Crystal Springs, Vicksburg, Woodville, and Jackson.

A Contested Presence: Free Black People in Antebellum Mississippi, 1820–1860

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During its first half century as a territory and state (1810-1860), Mississippi was an agrarian-frontier society. Its population was made up of four groups: Native Americans, White people, enslaved people, and free Black people. All four groups were present in Mississippi from its territorial beginnings.1

Richard Wright: Mississippi's Native Son

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Mississippi has produced more world-class writers than other states in the South and among them is Richard Nathaniel Wright, an internationally acclaimed African American novelist and social critic. Wright, the son of a sharecropper father and a high-school-teacher mother, was born September 4, 1908, on a Mississippi plantation some twenty miles from Natchez.

B.B. King, King of the Blues

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In the late 1940s in Indianola, Mississippi, a young man named Riley King was singing and playing guitar with his friends in a group called the “Famous St. John’s Gospel Singers.” They played in churches around the Delta and even went to the stations in Greenwood and Greenville and sang on the radio – they were that good.

Ruby Elzy: A Mississippi Jewel

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Ruby Elzy was a sweet-voiced soprano from the hills of northeastern Mississippi who became a star of Broadway, radio, and the movies in the 1930s. She sang everywhere, from Harlem's Apollo Theater to the White House, and she created a highly acclaimed role in one of the greatest American operas ever written, Porgy and Bess.

Ruby Elzy overcame poverty and prejudice to become one of the most illustrious singers of her generation. Yet for many decades after her tragic death in 1943 at the age of 35, she was largely forgotten.