Hattiesburg Ministers Union Headquarters

This building at 522 Mobile Street (the northeast corner of 6th and Mobile Streets), constructed in 1950 and still standing, housed J.C. Fairley’s Radio and TV Repair business and the Negro Masonic Lodge No. 115 (identified by the cornerstone). While the Freedom House at 507 Mobile Street housed COFO and MFDP headquarters, the building at 522 Mobile Street was the headquarters of the Hattiesburg Ministers Union, which later became part of the Delta Ministry.

Local African American ministers Rev. L.P. Ponder and Rev. J.E. Cameron helped to organize this group of pastors turned civil rights activists. Working with the National Council of Churches, the Committee of Free Southern Churchmen, and the national headquarters of the Presbyterian Church, the Hattiesburg Ministers Union oversaw the arrival, lodging (cots in the back room), meals, showers (Mr. Fairley rigged a temporary shower stall), and civil rights activities (voter registration canvassing and picketing the Forrest County Courthouse) of hundreds of Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis from all over the country, especially during Spring 1964.

From 1964 to 1966, Rev. Bob Beech, a Presbyterian minister from Illinois, headed the Hattiesburg Ministers Union and then the Delta Ministry office in Hattiesburg both from his office in the Masonic Lodge building. He moved to Hattiesburg with his wife and sons. Another son was born to them while they were here.

Sources:

Tusa, Bobs. The University of Southern Mississippi Libraries Special Collections. http://www.lib.usm.edu/~archives/crsitdoc.htm

Forrest County