Neshoba – Organizations

Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church

Nanih Waiya Indian Mennonite Church was a congregation of Choctaw Mennonites in Neshoba County that suffered three bombings between September 1964 and December 1966.  The bombings took place against the backdrop of the Freedom Summer murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in June 1964. There were never any arrests in the church bombings, which apparently were not a priority for local law enforcement, which included men implicated in the Freedom Summer murders.

For more detailed information, see this article “Revisiting a Mennonite Church Bombing, 50 Years Later”

The Philadelphia Coalition

The Philadelphia Coalition is a multiracial group of concerned local citizens that was formed around a call for justice in the case of the three civil rights workers–James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner–who were murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in 1964.

In 1994, members of the Philadelphia Coalition held a press conference to present a Call for Justice in Neshoba County. These are clips from the press conference as well as clips of Edgar Ray Killen being escorted to and from the courthouse for the trial:

These videos can also be viewed here.

After the Call for Justice for Edgar Ray Killen, members of the coalition and concerned citizens voice their opinions, feelings, and appreciation for the Philadelphia Coalition and the change it has brought to Neshoba County:

These videos can also be viewed here.

In 2005, the Philadelphia Coalition was honored by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation with the C.C. Bryant award for community organizing.

The full lecture and awards presentation can be found here.

Source:

“The Philadelphia Coalition. Recognition, Resolution, Redemption: Uniting for Justice.” www.neshobajustice.com.

COFO of Neshoba County

The COFO office was located on Carver Avenue. COFO was a coordinating body for civil rights movement efforts in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer. The Neshoba office was housed in a building originally owned by Calloway Cole of Longdale and later by Amos McClelland who also owned a cafe across the street. A large COFO sign visibly marked the building with black and white hand linked together. Today, this sign is on display in the Old Capital Museum in Jackson, Mississippi.

Other videos referencing COFO of Neshoba County:

These videos can also be viewed here.

Sources:

Neshoba County: African-American Heritage Driving Tour of Philadelphia Mississippi.http://www.neshobajustice.com/documents/RootsofStruggle.pdf

Freedom Schools in Neshoba County

As part of Freedom Summer, COFO helped create “Freedom Schools”in communities across the state. Freedom Schools were designed to provide traditional instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, along with an awareness of black history and politics.

The students were encouraged to write essays about conditions in their neighborhoods, including racism. Some students look back on these classes now as eye openers that allowed them to imagine an integrated world. Mt. Talley Missionary Baptist Church, in the Stallo Community, hosted Neshoba County’s only Freedom School in 1964.

Sources:

Neshoba County: African-American Heritage Driving Tour of Philadelphia Mississippi.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

Trust land was designated for use by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 1939, and their Constitution and By-Laws were passed in 1945.The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and their affiliates now contribute directly and indirectly nearly $4.9 million in Mississippi taxes and employ over 12,000 persons (as of 1998).

The Choctaw Indians have been submitted to horrible sufferings at the hands of the American government.From 1690 to about 1726, roughly 500 Choctaws had been sold as slaves.The Choctaws not accustomed to dishonest business deals were easily fooled in their first trades with the new Europeans. In 1777, the Choctaws sold part of their land near the Mississippi Delta to the English for the first time. After the 1830 treaty, the Treaty of the Dancing Rabbit Creek, the Choctaws lost much of their land and were forced to move to west Mississippi.In 1831, the Choctaw Nation started to move from western Mississippi to eastern Mississippi in what is known as the Trail of Tears.

Many members of the Choctaw Tribe fought in the Civil War and were never recognized for their commitment to the South.In fact, “no compulsion by law, no defense of home or country or family obligations urged them to place their life in jeopardy on the issue. Naught save the proud instinct of personal devotion to the people of the South fired their heart with the spirit of war; no ‘promises to pay’ ever allured them to enlist. In their fidelity to our cause the record of the Choctaw Indians stands above reproach.” Many members of the Choctaw Tribe insist that these soldiers should receive their proper place in history, but their requests have not been met.

Despite losing their land which had provided the Choctaws with a strong economic base in trade and farming, the Choctaws were able to overcome difficult times.In the early 1900s the Mississippi Choctaws “were described as the poorest pocket of poverty in the poorest state in the country.” By the late 1960s, the Choctaws had started a construction company that was building houses under a housing program funded by the federal government.During the 1970s, the Choctaws experienced the benefits of industrial companies moving their plants into the reservation.Chief Martin was instrumental in the establishment of the Choctaws industrial park by writing 500 letters to companies around the United States.With the benefits of the tourism industry, specifically in the casinos and the golf resorts within the reservation, the Choctaws have been able to maintain their business and economic momentum.

The Choctaws have advanced their education programs as well.Their first high school graduating class was in 1964, and currently over 1,700 students attend the Choctaw schools.”The Choctaw Central High School is accredited by the Mississippi State Department of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.The Choctaw Tribal School System has six elementary schools, one middle school and one boarding high school on the Choctaw Indian Reservation. The Choctaw schools are scattered over a four-county area and serve more than 1,700 students. It is the largest unified and locally-controlled Indian school system in the country.Choctaw education extends from birth through late life, with services provided through community schools and an array of specialized educational programs. “Choctaw education has become a critical element within the reservation communities, serving to support successful tribal government, economic growth, and individual self-worth”.

Click this link for videos referencing the MS Band of Choctaw Indians

Sources:

www.choctaw.org

Kidwell, Clara Sue. Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818 – 1918.Norman
and London:University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Debo, Angie. The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic.Norman and London:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1961.