Izeal Bennett, a native of Mississippi, lived in a home with thirteen siblings, his mother, and his father. His father was a sharecropper, and the children were responsible for helping him the crops. When Bennett was nine years old, he and his family moved to Summit, Mississippi. After two years, the Bennetts again moved to McComb, Mississippi in the Beartown community, where his father owned his own land. They grew peppers and cotton to sell, in addition to growing their own food. He started school at seven years old, and he quickly realized the differences in the treatment of blacks and whites. He graduated from Beartown High School and went to Alcorn University. At Alcorn, he majored in health and physical education and science. He also played football and ran track. He earned his masters at the University of Southern Mississippi in administration.
After graduation from Alcorn University, Bennett moved back to McComb, Mississippi, and worked with Robert ‘Bob’ Moses on voter registration and became among the group of the first blacks to register to vote during the movement. He began teaching in 1961 at Booker T. Washington School (now North Pike Middle School) in North Pike County. He served the movement by teaching and encouraging black students to believe that could and be anything they desired. In these videos, we learn more about Bennett’s passion for education and the advancement of the black community.
Izeal Bennett’s oral history, part one:
Part one of Izeal Bennett’s oral history can also be found here.