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. 

John Roy Lynch - Thomas and Joan Gandy Photographic Collection, Mss. 3778, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA

Representative John Roy Lynch

The child of a slave mother and Irish plantation manager father in Vidalia, Louisiana, John R. Lynch and his mother were sold to a Natchez planter after his father’s death. A self-educated man, Lynch operated a photography studio and became active in the Republican Party after the Civil War. Governor Adelbert Ames appointed him justice of the peace in 1869. The same year, he won election to the state legislature, later serving as Speaker of the House. In 1873, he won election to the US House of Representatives. In Congress, Lynch argued for the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which banned discrimination in public accommodations. He served three terms, overcoming voter intimidation and vote tampering by his Democratic opponents. In 1913, he published Facts of Reconstruction to refute the Lost Cause narrative of the period.

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.

Ida B. Wells Museum

Ida B. Wells MuseumFeatures a collection of artifacts belonging to journalist, suffragist, and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells

220 North Randolph Street
Holly Springs, Mississippi 

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Alcorn State University

Alcorn State UniversityAlcorn State University is the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the United States and the second-oldest state-supported institution of higher learning in Mississippi. It was founded in 1871 to educate the descendants of formerly enslaved Mississippians.

1000 Alcorn Avenue
Lorman, Mississippi

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