His Life Was On The Line, So He Reached Out To Community

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L. Graciella Maiolatesi
March 18, 2022

In 1874 the White-Line Movement, which used politics to “draw the racial line,” were angry that formerly enslaved Peter Crosby was elected as Vicksburg, Mississippi's Sheriff. They weren’t about to let a Black man police them. 

White-Liners tried intimidating Crosby, but he stood his ground. So they threatened his life!

When this didn’t work, they charged him with false crimes and he was removed from office. Refusing to accept this, Crosby turned to Mississippi’s state capital for help.

Republican Governor Ames issued an ordinance mandating White-Liners respect Crosby’s position, but their attitudes didn’t change. So Crosby called upon his community for support, and they didn’t disappoint! 

Hundreds of local Black community members marched towards Vicksburg to defend Crosby. Unfortunately, the White-Liners were ready for them.

They shot the marchers, killing and wounding hundreds. Eventually, President Grant sent federal troops to end the massacre.

The small silver lining to this resistance was that Crosby survived and was reappointed as Sheriff – although real justice would have been a collective demand for the end of the White-Line Movement and all white supremacy.

Even though many were killed, Crosby’s story shows the importance of building strong Black communities who will have our backs when white violence rears its ugly head. Even against overwhelming odds, we must show up to support our people!

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