Barnes, Thelma

Thelma Barnes was an activist for the Delta Ministry throughout the 1960s and ’70s.

Barnes was born in Issaquena County. After college graduation, Barnes worked as a management analyst at the Greenville Air Force Base and as secretary to Bishop Charles Golden of Nashville, Tennessee. Barnes spent a year in Nashville on Bishop Golden’s staff, but then returned to Greenville to serve with the Delta Ministry as secretary of the Greenville office.

When the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM; an early forerunner of Head Start programs) began establishing programs in the Mississippi Delta, Barnes assumed the role of organizer for all eight pilot centers.

In 1966, Barnes took an active role in the Freedom City project, an ill-fated affordable housing initiative. Barnes served as director for the Freedom City project in 1967, while also establishing a nutritional clinic in Glenn Allan, Mississippi.

In 1968, Barnes ran an unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Congress on the Democratic ticket.


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