Hinds – Places

Southern Christian Institute

From Allison Hall, Southern Christian Institute, Edwards, Miss.  Sysid 93054.  Scanned as tiff in 2008/11/04 by MDAH.  Credit:  Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History
From Allison Hall, Southern Christian Institute, Edwards, Miss. Sysid 93054. Scanned as tiff in 2008/11/04 by MDAH. Credit: Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Located in Edwards, MS, Southern Christian Institute was a private boarding school for black students during the Jim Crow era, when public schools for black students only went through the 8th or 11th grades. It was founded after Reconstruction, in 1882, by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and closed in 1953. It merged with Tougaloo College, but the campus in Edwards was quiet until it was used as a site of voter registration training during the civil rights movement and then housed the Bonner-Campbell School of Religion, of the A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) denomination, for a period beginning in 1971. In subsequent years, it has been used as a retreat center, Head Start school, and community center.

Location on Google Maps

Sources:

Preservation in Mississippi website: https://misspreservation.com/2010/12/01/abandoned-mississippi-southern-christian-institute/

https://worldofdecay.blogspot.com/2010/12/bonner-campbell-institute-edwards.html

Oral history of Erma Sias Bien-Aimé, July 29, 2017

 

Smith Robertson Museum

Named for successful barber Smith Robertson, Jackson’s first African American alderman, this 1894 structure was renovated in the late 1920s and was Jackson’s first public school for African Americans. The school was closed in 1971 during public school desegregation. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and reopened through the efforts of Dr. Jessie Mosley and Dr. Alferdteen Harrison in 1984 as a museum to interpret the history of African American Mississippians. Its collection includes artifacts related to civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Aaron Henry, James Meredith, Mrs. Clarie Collins Harvey, and others. The African American author Richard Wright (1908-1960), who wrote Native Son and Black Boy, attended Smith Robertson School from 1923 to 1925.

Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center is dedicated to increasing public understanding and awareness of the historical experiences and cultural expressions of people of African descent. Annual events include “The Taste of African American Art, Music and Cuisine” and “The Festival of Christmas Trees”.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

Hinds County Courthouse

In Hinds County court, attorney R. Jess Brown represented Freedom Riders, like Stokely Carmichael, Rita Carter, Catherine Burks, James L. Farmer, and Rev. Robert L. Pierson, the son-in-law of New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Rev. Pierson celebrated High Mass for fiteen Episcopal clergy and two others while in jail in 1961. While some of the prisoners were able to arrange for bond money, others had to work off their payment at Parchman or the county farm at the rate of $3 per day.

In this courthouse, Byron De La Beckwith was tried twice in 1964 for the murder of Medgar Evers. Both trials ended in hung juries. Retried in 1994, Beckwith was finally convicted of Evers’ murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

Edward Lee Motel

Located in the 100 block of Church Street is the Edward Lee Hotel, one of two African American owned hotels where civil rights dignitaries and entertainers stayed. The other African American owned hotel was the Summers Hotel located on West Pearl Street.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

State Capitol Building

In the New Capitol building, completed in 1903, the Mississippi legislature institutionalized “Jim Crow”practices. For example, the legislature passed two bills in 1962 that kept the Jackson city bus line segregated.

In the late ’50s and ’60s, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a state-created and state-funded organization, coordinated its surveillance and disruption of civil rights activities from offices on the fourth floor of the capitol, and later from the Woolfolk Building on West Street.

During the 1965 special summer session of the legislature, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) sponsored three weeks of demonstrations at the New Capitol demanding electoral reform. More than 600 demonstrators were arrested.

The James Meredith’s “March Against Fear”culminated here on June 26, 1966, with a rally of about 20,000 persons gathered on the north side. Speakers included Meredith, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., NAACP Field Secretary Charles Evers, and NAACP State Chairman Aaron Henry. The Meredith Mississippi March took its name from James Meredith, who became the first black student to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962, after a ruling by federal courts that he could not be denied admission. On June 5, 1966, Meredith, now a Columbia University law student, and a few companions, began a walk from Memphis, Tenn. to Jackson, Miss. to encourage African Americans to register and vote. He called it a “march against fear.” On June 6 he was wounded with a shotgun blast.

The next day, leaders of the major civil rights organizations, Dr. Martin Luther King of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), Floyd McKissick of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and Stokely Carmichael of SNCC (Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee), announced that they would resume his march, and invited freedom-loving people from all over the country to join them.

For almost three weeks, between a 200 and 2,000 people walked the 220 miles to the state capitol, camping out at night under rented circus tents. Local people fed the marchers on the way. After asking that federal registrars be sent to Mississippi, civil rights leaders took groups of marchers to nearby towns to canvass, rally and bring local African Americans to be registered. The Dept. of Justice later estimated that between 2,500 and 3,000 black Mississippians were registered to vote during the march.

Well guarded by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the marchers were not attacked on their main route, but some were assaulted on the side trips.

The March concluded on June 26 with a rally of 15,000 people in Jackson, while over a thousand officers in the Mississippi Highway Patrol, National Guard, and local law enforcement agencies guarded the capital building.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

Former New Jerusalem Baptist Church

This is the last church Medgar Evers visited before his assassination. Evers attended a celebration at the church that night after leading a day of picketing on Capitol Street in protest of an injunction against all demonstrations.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

First Baptist Church of Jackson

Medgar Evers led the first attempt to integrate First Baptist Church in 1963. It was not until 1973 that Rev. R.L.T. Smith and Rev. Emmett Burns became the first African Americans to worship here. Lawrence Manguary became its first African American member in 1976.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

Benjamin Brown Park

In 1995, the Jackson City Council named this park in honor of Benjamin Brown. On May 10, 1967, when two African American police officers attempted to arrest a speeder on Lynch Street at Jackson State, they were harassed by swarms of students, setting off two days of unrest that culminated in the tragic death of Benjamin Brown on May 12. A 22-year old truck driver and civil rights activist, Brown was shot by gunfire from law enforcement officers. A Jackson native, Brown attended Rowan, a middle school, when it was a junior high school.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/mem/brownom.htm

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

Galloway United Methodist Church

In 1963, contrary to the policy of the national United Methodist Church, Galloway’s board voted to bar African Americans from worship at their church. When five African Americans were denied admission to Galloway that spring, the pastor, Dr. W.B. Selah, and the associate minister, Jerry Furr, resigned. Others were turned away and even jailed, but finally, in 1966, the Galloway board rescinded its race policy and permitted all to worship.

Videos referencing Galloway United Methodist Church:

These videos can also be viewed here.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).

Former Morning Star Baptist Church

In 1961, a group of Freedom Riders, including a priest, were permitted to stay overnight at Morning Star, spreading their blankets and sleeping bags on the floor. After that night, other groups came and slept at Morning Star. Mass meetings were held here, and some marches started from this location.

Sources:

“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).