This church and its historically African American congregation were pioneers in the Jackson Civil Rights Movement, hosting an annual meeting of the Mississippi Negro Democrats Association as early as 1951. Central United Methodist was one of twenty local churches that held nightly mass meetings in support of the 1963 boycott of downtown merchants, and voter education classes were held here during the 1964 Freedom Summer. Central United Methodist pastors who supported the movement included Rev. Wendell Taylor and Rev. Henry Clay.
Central’s Family Life Center was constructed in 1965 after a major fund-raising effort and once housed the Marino Jones Branch YWCA, which had been organized since 1942 as the “colored”YWCA. Its director, Mrs. Lillie Bell Jones, supported the NAACP and the Jackson movement, and was a member of Woman Power Unlimited. She provided cold water and a resting place inside the YWCA during marches and demonstrations on Farish Street, and when children were chased onto the grounds, she sheltered them by telling police they could not arrest children on YWCA property.
“Civil Rights Driving Tour of Hinds County”produced by the Associated Press, Tougaloo College, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the Mississippi Development Authority (Tourism Division).