Could This All-Black Town Beat Bigotry Back To Where It Came From?

August 7, 2019

It was late summer 1955 in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. 

Word spread quickly of a Black boy named Emmett Till’s brutal murder in nearby Money, and time was of the essence to mount a court case. 

Reporters were hungry for story developments while witnesses and investigators desperately sought protection.

Where could they find shelter from the vile bigotry of 1950s Mississippi and the wrath of the Jim Crow South?

Affluent Mound Bayou resident Dr. T. R. M. Howard offered his home as central command - a courageous act that saved evidence and witnesses alike. 

This wasn’t unusual if you know how business was conducted in Mound Bayou.

Founded by two Black men, Isaiah Montgomery and Benjamin Green, on July 12, 1887, the-then-largest Black town in America (located where three major regional rail lines crossed) held “6 churches, a train depot, 3 schools, 40 businesses, 3 cotton gins, [a] zoo, library, bank, and a hospital,” according to BlackThen.

Citizens helped each other succeed by encouraging education, the sharing of resources, prudent economics, civil rights activism, and restricting white men from owning property.

Sadly today, Mound Bayou’s former commercial vibrancy can barely be detected as population decline, major business district fires, loss of industry, and urban blight all took their toll. 

Yet this small, still predominantly-Black town’s impact on civil rights history will forever remain.

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