In the early twentieth century, Black people in Mississippi who aimed to exercise their rights as citizens of the United States had few allies. State and local government officials, acting under the authority of the 1890 state constitution, blocked efforts by black citizens to vote and operated separate schools for White and Black children. In other states, by the 1930s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had developed a strategy to gain full citizenship rights: use the courts.
Civil Rights Movement
Building the Collective “voice of Negro women in Mississippi”: The National Council of Negro Women in Mississippi in the 1960s and 1970s Lesson Plan
With this article, Rebecca Tuuri introduces the history, mission, and innovative female leaders who championed the National Council of Negro Women from its inception in 1935 through its spread and successes specifically in the state of Mississippi during the 20th century. Focusing on NCNW’s efforts to unite diverse social and political organizations, Tuuri describes how the National Council for Negro Women has worked to support Black women in achieving leadership roles, promoting health and education, and achieving Black pride in Mississippi communities.
Grades 7 through 12
MS.8.3 - Evaluate the lasting impact of the Civil Rights Movement on Mississippi.
US History: 1877 to Present
US.3.2 - Trace the development of political, social, and cultural movements and subsequent reforms, including: Jim Crow laws, Plessy vs. Ferguson, women’s suffrage, temperance movement, Niagara movement, public education, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Marcus Garvey.
In May 1954, the United States Supreme Court announced in a unanimous decision that segregation—the practice of separating Black and White students, by law, within the public school system—was unconstitutional. That decision, Brown v. Board of Education, set into motion decades of organized, White opposition in southern states that had, since the 1890s, enforced laws to ensure that Black students and White students would not attend the same schools.
As a young man Archie Manning excelled both athletically and academically in the small Delta town of Drew, Mississippi. Upon graduating from high school with valedictorian honors, Manning began his college football career in 1967 at the University of Mississippi. Under the guidance of legendary college coach John Vaught, Archie Manning and the Ole Miss Rebels football team achieved national recognition. Prior to the start of Manning’s senior year in 1970, the Rebels became one of the national favorites in college football.
Great football players are accustomed to receiving golden trophies and flashy headlines. Football and ballads, however, make for a rare combination. Nevertheless, in 1969, Lamont Wilson, a postman from Magnolia, Mississippi, literally began singing the praises of his favorite player, Ole Miss Rebels’ star quarterback, Archie Manning. Wilson was inspired to write the ballad honoring Manning following the Rebels’ 38-0 demolition of the Tennessee Volunteers during that year’s football season.
Nearly ten years after the decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), most Southern school districts remained racially segregated, and decades of educational disparities wrought devastating economic consequences for Black Mississippians. In the summer of 1964, the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) established forty-one Freedom Schools in Mississippi.
The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer was perhaps the most ambitious extended campaign of the entire Civil Rights Movement. Over the course of roughly two months, more than 1,000 volunteers arrived in Mississippi to help draw media attention to the state’s Black freedom movement, to register African American voters, and to teach in Freedom Schools that were established to supplement the inferior educational opportunities provided to black youths in the state’s public schools.
Personal recollections are valuable primary source tools for understanding historical events. They can be in the form of oral histories or written remembrances. The following is the text of a speech given by former secretary of state Dick Molpus at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s “History Is Lunch” program on June 18, 2014. The speech was made in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and presented in the House of Representatives Chamber of the Old Capitol Museum, Jackson, Mississippi.