Ripley, Minnie

Minnie Ripley, known as “Momma Rip”in Issaquena County, was among the first symbolic black members of the Mayersville community to register to vote and was an involved activist at the local, state, and national levels.

Born in 1900 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ripley was raised in Mount Level, Mississippi, (Issaquena County) by her grandparents who were sharecroppers. Ripley attended public school in Mayersville until her teens when a local teacher helped her transfer to Piney Woods Institution, a boarding school in Braxton, Mississippi. There Ripley worked to pay tuition until ill-health and financial constraints caused her to leave the Institution at age eighteen.

After weathering two marriages and the Mississippi River flood of 1927 in Greenville, Mississippi, Ripley returned to Mayersville. In Mayersville, Ripley worked as a cook and on a farm, staying active in the local Baptist church.

In 1964 the first civil rights workers arrived in Issaquena County from across the nation. Following a presentation at Moon Lake Church, Ripley became active in the NAACP and the voter registration movement. Ripley was one of the first local black citizens to attempt to register to vote in Issaquena County, eventually succeeding in February 1965. Later that year, Ripley and her husband joined members of the MFDP in a march to Jackson to protest the disenfranchisement of black Mississippians. The protest ended in mass arrests, and Ripley was detained, along with many other notable leaders of the day, in the stockyards of the Mississippi Coliseum for eleven days.

Ripley continued her activism through protests, participating in groups that successfully lobbied federal leaders to institute Head Start in Issaquena County. In the late 1960s and ’70s she participated in the National Council of Negro Women.


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“An Oral History with Mrs. Minnie Ripley.”Civil Rights in Mississippi: Digital Archive. 1979.

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