Neshoba – Places

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”

Neshoba County Jail

In 1964, the Neshoba County Jail was located at 422 Myrtle Street. This is where the three civil rights workers (Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner) were taken and held when arrested on June 21. They were later released around 10:30 P.M. to return to the COFO office in Meridian. Two years later in 1966, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. knelt and prayed at this site.

Sources:

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

Charles Evers Funeral Home

In the 1950s, this building housed a funeral home operated by Charles Evers, brother of Medgar Evers, who urged blacks to register to vote. He also ran a taxi company and hotel. The hotel was located next to the COFO office and many COFO workers stayed there. In the years immediately following the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, the area often suffered violence during anniversaries of these murders. In one instance, a white gunman fired into the hotel and COFO workers returned fire. Mr. Evers is a former mayor of Fayette, Mississippi, and was a disc jockey for WHOC radio station while living in Philadelphia. The funeral home, now known as Latimer Funeral Home, is located at 250 Carver Avenue.

Sources:

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

Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church

Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church is located at 257 Carver Avenue. When the civil rights workers first come to Philadelphia, Mt. Nebo was the only church that would allow CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) to hold mass meetings to register people to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a memorial service at Mt. Nebo was the headquarters for a county-wide boycott to protest repeated incidences of police brutality. There is a monument to Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in front of Mt. Nebo. The “Community Welfare Club”donated this monument.

Videos referencing Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church

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

Bogue Chitto Swamp

The burned 1963 blue Ford station wagon driven by the three missing civil rights workers (Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner) was found by a Choctaw Indian in the Bogue Chitto Swamp thirteen miles northeast of Philadelphia on Highway 21. Investigating officers said the car was probably driven to this location and burned sometime late Sunday night or early Monday morning. It was discovered on Tuesday, June 23, two days after the workers disappeared.

Sources:

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

Mt. Zion United Methodist Church

Mt. Zion United Methodist Church is located off Highway 16 East on County Road 747. On June 16, 1964, a routine meeting of church officers was held. As the officers were leaving the church, Klansmen met them outside and ordered them out of the vehicles where they proceeded to beat J.R. (Bud) Cole, Georgia Rush, and her son, John Thomas. The church was burned later that evening, leaving only the forty-year-old bell that was used to announce the beginning of church services. On June 21, the three civil rights workers came to Philadelphia to secure affidavits about the raid, the beatings, and the burning of the church. The church was rebuilt and rededicated in February 1966 with a plaque near the front to pay tribute to the three slain civil rights workers, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner. In 1989, a historical marker was placed at the church to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the murders. The listeners of WKXI radio in Jackson, Mississippi, donated this marker. Another monument has also been placed in front of the church in memory of the three slain workers.

Videos referencing Mt. Zion United Methodist Church:

These videos can also be viewed here.

Road 515 or “Rock Cut Road”

The murder site of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner is located off Highway 19 South at the intersection of County Roads 515 and 284. Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were released from jail around 10:30 P.M., and a convoy of cars filled with Klansmen was waiting on Highway 19 South to intercept them. It is believed they were pulled over in the House community on Highway 492 going toward Union, Miss. The conspirators drove the three workers back toward Philadelphia. The caravan turned onto Road 515. At the intersection of Roads 515 and 284, the stopped. Here, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered.

Videos referencing Road 515:

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

Booker T. Washington School

The first school for black children in the city of Philadelphia was held in the Black Masonic Lodge just off Wilson Street. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Stephens organized the school with Mrs. Stephens being one of the first teachers. The school’s name was Neshoba County School. The next location for the black school was on the east side of the railroad track, just off Rea Street, where the feed mill is now located. The three-room structure, which was built in the late 1920s, was financed by the Rosenwald Foundation. In 1917, Julius Rosenwald created the Rosenwald Foundation to help build schools for African-Americans in the decades before the end of segregation. He encouraged blacks and whites to work together to build the schools. His foundation helped to build more than 5,300 structures across the rural South, with the second highest number in Mississippi. Of the almost 600 structures in the state, only eleven remain. Small additions to this school were made, including a home economics class and an industrial shop. The name of the school was changed in 1939 to Neshoba County Training School. A new building was ready for occupancy for the 1948-1949 term. Mr. Watts was principal and the school’s name was changed to Booker T. Washington. In the early 1950s a band program was established and named the Booker T. Washington Hornets. At this same time, an organized athletic program was begun. Due to integration, the school closed in 1970 and was vacant for several years. Today, it houses the Philadelphia Head Start, and the gym is used for parks and recreation activities.

Videos referencing the Booker T. Washington School:

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

Neshoba Central High

The school is located at 1125 Golf Course Road, south of Highway 16 East. Neshoba Central School was built in 1963 to serve the white students who lived in the county. Students from the Stallo Community who first attended an all-white school, through the “Freedom of Choice Plan,”were Earlean Sherrod Triplett, Mavis Moore Carter, Frank Jimmerson, Wesley Moore, and Thad Holmes. In January 1970, all black students living in the county were sent to Neshoba Central School from Carver School. Neshoba Central is the only county public school.

Sources:

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

Longdale High School

Longdale High School, located near Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, was built in 1948. The people of Mt. Zion and the neighboring Poplar Springs Community borrowed $7,000 from a white Philadelphia businessman and were granted $5,000 from the state. A nearby home for the teachers was also built. The larger Mt. Zion and Poplar Springs landowners signed the note on the borrowed money. This school closed in 1963.

Sources:

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