Washington County Data Dashboard


Washington – Documents

Greenville Air Force Base Takeover

(1/1/1966) This was a project sponsored by the National Council of Churches of Mississippi. NCC started a takeover of the abandoned Greenville Air Force Base by evicted black farmworkers who had been living in tents during sub-freezing temperatures. The takeover was sponsored jointly by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the Delta Ministry. The Greenville Air Force Base is still located at the Greenville Municipal Airport.


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

The Delta Democrat-Times and the Carters

The Delta Democrat-Times, in Greenville, Miss., under the leadership of Hodding Carter II, and later his son, Hodding Carter III, advocated fairness and equal rights in the Mississippi Delta.

Carter II, a Louisiana native, moved to Greenville in 1936 to start a paper, which eventually merged with another to become the Democrat-Times.

In 1946, the paper won the Pulitzer Prize for Carter’s editorials about racial and economic intolerance toward Japanese immigrants.

The Greenville paper frequently opined on racial integration in the 1960s, although Carter’s son, Hodding III, said his father did not consider himself an integrationist.

“We were not a liberal paper,” Carter III recently told The Sun. Carter III, an Emmy-winning journalist, served as an assistant secretary of state under President Carter and is the president of the Miami-based Knight Foundation, a charity.

Still, his father’s stance on discrimination and voters’ rights wasn’t a popular one in the Mississippi Delta. The elder Carter often likened discrimination to “moral sickness,” and argued that subjugating blacks damaged the white community.

“Dad thought there ought to be a level of decency,” Carter III said. “He believed Southern blacks, even under the absurd voting laws, should be able to vote.”

The paper passed into Carter III’s hands in the mid-1960s, and he and the staff became “100 percenters” against segregation.

Carter III said the same kind of paper – outspoken against the white establishment – might not have thrived in Jackson. “There was a broader sense of the world in Greenville” because many Greenville merchants were Catholic, Jewish and Lebanese descendants who were not offended by the paper’s stance.

“They weren’t 100% Southerners themselves,” Carter III said.

Will Campbell, who was forced out as chaplain at the University of Mississippi for his integrationist views and is now a nationally known author, says Carter’s stand was braver than Carter III describes.

“The Greenville Delta Democrat-Times was enlightened under the leadership of Hodding Carter,” Campbell said. “The Charlotte Observer gave some leadership on integration. The Raleigh News and Observer also stepped out. But for the most part, the Southern press didn’t have much to be proud of.”

Campbell said papers were pressured by white leaders – and white money – to downplay civil rights.

Mrs. Betty Werlein Carter served as the paper’s publisher for many years.



Johnson, Sarah H.

Johnson was a civil rights activist and was elected as the first black member of Greenville City Council in 1973.



Freedom City

About twelve miles south of Greenville in Swiftwater, Mississippi, is where “Freedom City”was set up. This area consisted of twenty-one ready built houses constructed to house displaced African-Americans who were fired from farm jobs in three area counties. The 400 acre plot also had crops growing where the displaced people could work for wages.


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

Delta Ministry in Washington Co.

The Delta Ministry was a Greenville-based group that provided emergency assistance, counseling, advocacy and other services for the poor blacks and those whites who began to see that they too are victims of an unjust system in the Mississippi Delta.



Thompson, Dr. William Bert

Dr. William Bert Thompson was interviewed regarding his career of teaching and administration in Mississippi public schools. For twenty years he served in the Greenville, Mississippi, public schools as assistant principal, principal, and superintendent. He guided the Greenville public school system through the difficult period of racial integration.



Strike City

A group of forty-nine African-American men, women, and children decided to go on strike after they demanded a raise of $1.25 an hour or $9 dollars a day. They were only being paid $3 per day for using a hoe, and $6 a day if they drove a tractor. When they first went on strike, they moved into the Greenville Industrial College building, 140 S. 8th St. in Greenville. After eviction, they bought five acres and set up Army surplus tents where they lived for months. About three miles southeast of Leland, Mississippi, was Strike City, Mississippi, as the Memphis Press-Scimitar called it.