Issaquena – People/Persons

Sias, Henry

Born in 1881, Henry Sias was a prominent member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).

After serving in World War I, Sias returned home to Issaquena County and worked as a teacher and farmer for the next four decades. By 1964 when the first civil rights organizers came to Issaquena County, Sias owned 160 acres of land, was a prominent member of the community, and had founded the Issaquena branch of the NAACP. At age eighty-three during the Freedom Summer, Sias helped SNCC workers like Stokely Carmichael meet locals interested in participating in rights-based organizations, like SNCC and COFO.

In 1964 when the MFDP traveled to the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City to protest the Mississippi Democratic Party’s racial biases, Sias served as a delegate and “elder statesman”of the group.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Mollison, W. E.

W.E. Mollison was an early leader for equal rights in Mississippi and served as historical inspiration for noted activists like Henry Sias and Unita Blackwell.

W.E. Mollison was born in 1859 near Mayersville, Mississippi. Following attendance at Fisk University and Oberlin College, Mollison returned home and worked as a newspaper editor, served as superintendent of public schools for two years, and served as Issaquena County Chancery and Circuit Court Clerk from 1882 to 1892. In 1892, Mollison moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Warren County, where he became a newspaper writer, practicing attorney, and Republican Party activist. From 1910 to 1920, Mollison lived in Chicago, Illinois, and continued to practice law. There he served as President of the Cook County Bar Association and Vice-President of the Anthropological Society.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Hall Jr., Clarence

Clarence Hall, Jr. was a local activist who made some of the first inquiries into an NAACP law suit against the Issaquena County Board of Education for the suspension of students wearing pro-SNCC materials in 1965. Following the ruling in Blackwell v. Issaquena that black students could not be prohibited from attending white schools, Hall became a leader in registering black students for historically white public schools. Hall was the first black citizen to register to vote in Issaquena County in 1957.

Hall was also active in a number of local chapters of important rights organizations, including the Delta Ministry. Hall was particularly vital as an administrative assistant to the Freedom City project beginning in 1966, an affordable housing initiative that eventually failed. Hall served as a key mover in the implementing the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and Head Start legislation.

In 1968, Hall ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress on the Democratic ticket.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Barnes, Thelma

Thelma Barnes was an activist for the Delta Ministry throughout the 1960s and ’70s.

Barnes was born in Issaquena County. After college graduation, Barnes worked as a management analyst at the Greenville Air Force Base and as secretary to Bishop Charles Golden of Nashville, Tennessee. Barnes spent a year in Nashville on Bishop Golden’s staff, but then returned to Greenville to serve with the Delta Ministry as secretary of the Greenville office.

When the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM; an early forerunner of Head Start programs) began establishing programs in the Mississippi Delta, Barnes assumed the role of organizer for all eight pilot centers.

In 1966, Barnes took an active role in the Freedom City project, an ill-fated affordable housing initiative. Barnes served as director for the Freedom City project in 1967, while also establishing a nutritional clinic in Glenn Allan, Mississippi.

In 1968, Barnes ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress on the Democratic ticket.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Reed, Annie Laurie

Reed served as a grassroots organizer and voter registration activist for Unita Blackwell during the “Freedom Summer”of 1964 and throughout the Civil Rights movement.

Sources:

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

Fleming, Willie

Fleming, an Army veteran, worked as a voter registration activist during the “Freedom Summer”of 1964.

Sources:

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

Ripley, Minnie

Minnie Ripley, known as “Momma Rip”in Issaquena County, was among the first symbolic black members of the Mayersville community to register to vote and was an involved activist at the local, state, and national levels.

Born in 1900 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ripley was raised in Mount Level, Mississippi, (Issaquena County) by her grandparents who were sharecroppers. Ripley attended public school in Mayersville until her teens when a local teacher helped her transfer to Piney Woods Institution, a boarding school in Braxton, Mississippi. There Ripley worked to pay tuition until ill-health and financial constraints caused her to leave the Institution at age eighteen.

After weathering two marriages and the Mississippi River flood of 1927 in Greenville, Mississippi, Ripley returned to Mayersville. In Mayersville, Ripley worked as a cook and on a farm, staying active in the local Baptist church.

In 1964 the first civil rights workers arrived in Issaquena County from across the nation. Following a presentation at Moon Lake Church, Ripley became active in the NAACP and the voter registration movement. Ripley was one of the first local black citizens to attempt to register to vote in Issaquena County, eventually succeeding in February 1965. Later that year, Ripley and her husband joined members of the MFDP in a march to Jackson to protest the disenfranchisement of black Mississippians. The protest ended in mass arrests, and Ripley was detained, along with many other notable leaders of the day, in the stockyards of the Mississippi Coliseum for eleven days.

Ripley continued her activism through protests, participating in groups that successfully lobbied federal leaders to institute Head Start in Issaquena County. In the late 1960s and ’70s she participated in the National Council of Negro Women.

Sources:

“Council of Federated Organizations (COFO).”King Encyclopedia.
http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/about_king/encyclopedia/cofo.htm

“An Oral History with Honorable Unita Blackwell.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1977.
http://www.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/blackwell.htm

“Barfootin’.”Unita Blackwell and JoAnne Prichard Morris. Crown Publishers. 2006.

“From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice.”Thomas F. Jackson. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2006.

“National Council of Churches.”http://home.wlu.edu/~connerm/AfAmStudies/Contemporary%20Culture%20Project/Religion&Culture/ncc.html

“Divine Agitators: The Delta Ministry and Civil Rights in Mississippi.”Mark Newman. University of Georgia Press. 2004.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.”John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

“The Issaquena Genealogy and History Project: W.E. Mollison.”http://www.rootsweb.com/~msissaq2/mollison.html

“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979. http://anna.lib.usm.edu/%7Espcol/crda/oh/ohripleymp.html

“SNCC: 1960-1966.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/sncc/

Hall Jr., Clarence

Clarence Hall, Jr. was a local activist and Issaquena County native who made some of the first inquiries into an NAACP law suit against the Issaquena County Board of Education for the suspension of students wearing pro-SNCC materials in 1965. Following the ruling in Blackwell v. Issaquena that black students in Issaquena and Sharkey Counties could not be prohibited from attending white schools, Hall became a leader in registering black students for historically white public schools.

Hall was also active in a number of local chapters of important rights organizations, including the Delta Ministry. Hall was particularly vital as an administrative assistant to the Freedom City project beginning in 1966, an affordable housing initiative that eventually failed. Hall served as a key mover in the implementing the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) and Head Start legislation.

In 1968, Hall ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress on the Democratic ticket.

Cobb, Charles

Charles Cobb was a political activist in Springfield, Massachusetts, through his church, St. John’s United Church of Christ. His reputation for community organization led him to the Mississippi Delta in the 1960s when he worked on behalf of SNCC, the Greenville Student Movement, and various ecumenical rights-oriented organizations.

Cobb began organization efforts in Sharkey County through the help of Henry Sias, an elderly Issaquena County native, in 1964. Following the influential Blackwell v. Issaquena court decision, Cobb is credited with developing the idea of Freedom Schools – an alternative to traditional public education in Sharkey County and across the Delta.

Sources:

“Racial Justice Advocate, Charles Cobb, Dies.”Barbara Powell. Worldwide Faith News.
http://www.wfn.org/1999/01/msg00025.html