Mississippi in Black and White, 1865–1941

The road to Reconstruction for the South remained clouded by wounds of war and competing plans for the future. The federal policy called Reconstruction intended to rebuild the Southern states and bring them back into the Union. Black Mississippians emerged from slavery with their first hopeful glimpses of freedom. They eagerly built communities with businesses, schools, and churches. They voted and won election to office. But freedom was fragile. By the turn of the century, Jim Crow laws disenfranchised African Americans, eliminated equality under the law, and ushered in segregation.

From the Gallery

Explore artifacts, photos, and documents featured in the Mississippi in Black and White gallery.

Timeline: 1865–1910

Remember Their Names

From 1882 to 1970 more than 500 men and women were lynched in Mississippi. Five monoliths in this gallery are inscribed with 445 names and alleged "crimes" to bear witness to the violence White people employed to maintain White supremacy at the start of the Jim Crow Era. 

Wesley Thomas

Male, Vicksburg, Attempted Assault of a White Woman

Lynched in Port Gibson in 1889 for “attempted rape.”

Video Tour

Points of Light

The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi is full of ordinary men and women who refused to sit silently while their brothers and sisters were denied their basic freedoms. A number of these heroes are featured throughout the museum as Points of Light, shining exemplars of dignity, strength, and perseverance in the face of oppression.

Julius Rosenwald - Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-26613

Julius Rosenwald

When the state refused to adequately fund Black education, the Julius Rosenwald Fund stepped in to offer grants for community-built schools for Black children. The fund stemmed from a collaboration between Tuskegee Institute founder Booker T. Washington and Julius Rosenwald. The fund provided a third of the cost to be matched by state and local sources. Parents donated labor and materials to build schools and helped with maintenance. After 1890, nearly all public funds spent on Black education in Mississippi were spent to match Rosenwald grants. When the Great Depression ended the program in the 1930s, Mississippi ranked second in the country with 632 Rosenwald schools. 

Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce - Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, HABS DC,WASH,399--1

Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce

Blanche Kelso Bruce rose from slavery to the US Senate. Born a Virginia slave, Bruce was taught by his young master’s tutor. He left his master at the beginning of the Civil War and moved to Hannibal, Missouri, where he taught school briefly before continuing his education at Oberlin College in Ohio. After the war, Bruce worked on a Mississippi steamer for a year before settling in Bolivar County, where he became a successful planter. Active in Republican state politics, Bruce served as sheriff and tax collector (1872-1875), before the state legislature elected him to the US Senate, the first African American to serve a full term (1875-1881).

Explore Mississippi

Many of the homes, colleges, and historic sites discussed in this gallery still exist today. Journey beyond the museum walls and explore the places where history happened.

Mound Bayou, Mississippi

Mound BayouMound Bayou was founded by former slaves led by Isaiah Montgomery in 1887 as an independent African American community.

202 West Main Street
Mound Bayou, Mississippi

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Rust College

Rust CollegeFounded in 1866 to provide basic education for newly-freed adults and children.

150 Rust Avenue
Holly Springs, Mississippi 38635

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