(Jones County) (1965) After passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Laurel Leader Call reported that while 99.9 percent of whites in Jones County were registered to vote, only 8.8 percent of blacks were registered. By August 20, 1965, the US Department of Justice had set up a registration office in the conference […]
“Built in 1940 as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Recovery Program, [the project] was bounded on the east by South Fourth Avenue, on the west by Maple Street and on the south by Jefferson Street.” It was within walking distance of downtown Laurel. It was inhabited by hard-working, working-class families who felt lucky to […]
Little is known about how Jones County got its nickname “The Free State of Jones,”but there have been many rumors and theories. One with the backing of publication in the Magazine of American History was an article written by G. Norton Galloway, Historian of the Sixth Army Corps, titled “A Confederacy within a Confederacy.”The only […]
There were four schools for the black children in Laurel known as the Laurel Colored Schools: Kingston/Nora Davis, Sandy Gavin, Southside Elementary and Oak Park High School. The children and teachers would walk to school along the two-mile long sidewalk of Maple Street. Sandy Gavin was Laurel’s first black school to be built of brick […]
In 1882, the town of Laurel, Mississippi, was founded when John Kamper built a mill in order to provide timber for the completion of the Northeastern and New Orleans Railroad. The work force in the mill was primarily black. In 1891, Kamper sold the mill to then-Iowa based Eastman-Gardiner Company. Brothers George and Silas Gardiner, […]
Hubbard was born in 1867 and eventually became one of the founding members of the Saint Elmo Baptist Church in 1895. In 1902 at the age of 35 he served as the head sawyer at the Eastman-Gardiner Company’s “big mill”and was the founding pastor of the Second Baptist Church. In 1921, Hubbard became a missionary […]
Mr. John L. Benson of Moselle tells the story of his family and his great-grandfather, Isom Benson, who donated land in Jones County for building Benson School for African-American children during Jim Crow segregation. Click here for the video. This oral history was conducted by April Grayson in Hattiesburg, MS.
Leontyne Price was the first successful black female opera singer and was born in Laurel, Mississippi, on February 10, 1927. She grew up in Laurel, Mississippi, and graduated from Oak Park High School (now only elementary, 1205 Queensburg Avenue Laurel, MS 39440) in 1944. She also sang in the choir at St. Paul’s Methodist Church […]
Laurel’s Freedom House was the center for a voter-registration drive in Jones County and was located at the home of Eberta Spinks in 1965.
On December 3, 1945, Willie McGee, an African-American resident of Laurel, was indicted by an all-white Jones County grand jury for raping a married white woman. McGee, in his thirties, was a delivery man at a local grocery store. Although McGee’s appointed trial counsel could not confer with him prior to trial because of McGee’s […]
The Lincoln was the black community’s theater and was located at the intersection between North Maple and Church St. in the shadow of the Southern Railroad train depot in downtown Laurel. It “offered customers a healthy diversion from the paralyzing fear, death, destruction and debilitating anxiety that marked the period between 1941 and 1950.” The […]
The first weekly newspaper in Laurel, the Laurel Chronicle, was founded by Wallace Rogers in 1897. Beginning in 1897, the paper published a column, “Progressive Colored Citizens,”serving as the first white-owned newspaper in the state to positively highlight the contributions of African-Americans to the community. In 1954, following the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. […]
Author of “The Last Days: a Son’s Story of Sin and Segregation at the Dawn of a New South.” This book tells of Marsh’s childhood growing up in Laurel, Miss. (8 Highland Woods), and of his minister father. Marsh’s father, Bob Marsh, was the pastor of First Baptist Church of Laurel (607 West 5th Street […]