On This Date in Delta Heritage

 

The 2007-2008 school year at Delta State University was The Year of Delta Heritage. In support of this annual theme, we have produced an online and a hard copy of the Delta Heritage Calendar. This version was prepared by John Guzek, a Robertson Scholar from Duke University who interned in the Delta Center during the summer of 2011. Please send any corrections or suggestions of other events and hyperlinks by contacting Luther Brown at lbrown@deltastate.edu.

 

January

 

January 1

Charles Capps, one of the longest serving state representatives in Mississippi, is born in 1925 in Merigold, MS. Capps was a powerful figure in the Mississippi Legislature until his death in 2005. More information available @deltastate.edu.

James Seay, author of four books of poetry, is born in 1939 in Panola County, MS. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia, he went on to teach English at a number of colleges including the University of Alabama and Vanderbilt University. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  More information available @storysouth.com.

President Lincoln issues the final Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. An executive order issued during the American Civil War under Lincoln’s war powers, it proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation’s 4 million slaves and immediately freed 50,000 of them. More information available @archives.gov.

January 2

Georgia votes to ratify the US Constitution, becoming the fourth state in the modern United States in 1788. More information available @usconstitution.net.

The Battle of Stones River concludes when the Union troops defeat Confederates at Murfreesboro, TN in 1863. In regard to the Civil War’s major battles, Stones River had the highest percentage of casualties on both sides. The battle dashed Confederate aspirations for control of Middle Tennessee. More information available @americancivilwar.com.

President Roosevelt shuts down the post office in Indianola for not accepting its first appointed postmistress in 1903. More information available @jstor.org.

Streetcars begin operating in Yazoo City in 1906. More information available @cityofyazoocity.org.

January 3

Mike Espy becomes the first African American to be elected to Congress in the Second District of Mississippi in 1993. He also served the Secretary of Agriculture from 1993 to 1994, becoming the first African American to do so. In December 1997, Tyson Foods pleaded guilty to giving Espy more than $12,000 in illegal gifts. Espy has never been formally convicted of any charges. More information available @mikespy.com.

Son House plays at the Gaslight Grill in Greenwich Village, NYC in 1965. A blues singer and guitarist from Riverton, MS, House pioneered an innovative style that incorporated elements of southern gospel and spiritual music with the aid of slide guitar. He was recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941 and 1942. More information available @slidingdelta.com.

Two weeks after South Carolina becomes the first state to secede from the Union, the state of Delaware is visited in 1861 by a commissioner from Mississippi who claims the southern states’ right to secede. Afterwards, a resolution is passed by the Delaware legislature expressing their disapproval with Mississippi’s decision to secede. More information available @nytimes.com.

January 4

Eddie Cusic, singer and bluesman, is born outside of Leland, MS in 1926. He formed the Rhythm Aces in the 1950s and attracted large crowds, urging them to explore the cultural history of the Mississippi Delta. More information available @arts.state.ms.us.  

During the 81st session of the state Senate, Senator Theodor G. Bilbo introduces a bill to “prohibit the manufacture, sale, barter, and giving away of Coca-Cola” in 1910. Twice serving as governor of Mississippi, Bilbo was known for being an ardent white supremacist, defending segregation, and participating in the Ku Klux Klan. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Elvis Presley’s father, Vernon, is released from Parchman Farm, where he had served time for forgery in 1941. More information available @blurtit.com.

Mississippi Valley State University is founded in 1950. A historically black university located in Itta Bena, MS, MSVU was designed from fear after Brown v. Board of Education that African Americans might begin applying to Mississippi’s premier white-only institutions. More information available @mvsu.edu.

January 5

Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records where many Delta greats recorded, is born in 1923. He played an important role in the musical careers of Johnny Cash, B. B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Howlin’ Wolf, and Carl Perkins.  More information available @sunrecord.com.

The Star of the West, a Union merchant vessel, leaves NY with supplies and 250 troops heading for Fort Sumter in 1861. The ship was later captured by the Confederacy, transporting millions in gold, silver, and paper currency to Vicksburg, MS and continuing to Yazoo City, MS. More information available @wikipedia.org.

January 6

Stark Young, MS Delta author, dies in 1963. Born in Como, MS on October 11, 1881, Stark was a teacher, painter, playwright, painter, novelist, essayist, and literary critic. In addition to writing weekly essays for The New Republic and a best-selling novel, So Red The Rose, he is seen as one of the most cosmopolitan and multi-talented of the state’s major literary figures. Throughout his career, however, he retained the characteristically Southern perspective he had acquired during his childhood in MS. More information available @olemiss.edu.

Mamie Carthan Till Mobley, born in Webb and mother of Emmett Till and important civil rights leader, dies in 2003. The murder of her son catapulted the quiet Chicago civil service employee into a lifetime of advocacy, starting with seeking justice for the death of her son. More information available @pbs.org.

January 7

America’s first Presidential Election is held in 1789. George Washington, enormously popular for his efforts in the Revolutionary War, ran unopposed and carried every state. John Adams, receiving the second greatest number of electoral votes, became the first Vice President. Before this election, the United States had no chief executive; instead, the Confederation Congress headed the government with a presiding officer. More information available @wikipedia.org.

January 8

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll,” is born in a two-room house in Tupelo, MS in 1935. He was one of the first artists to perform rockabilly, a combination of blues and country music.  He also performed such other genres as gospel and pop and made thirty-three movies.  He is the only artist to have been inducted into three halls of fame: the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.  More information available @elvis.com.

Mississippi becomes the first state to ratify the 18th Amendment in 1918, an act prohibiting the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. The state was also the last to legalize alcohol once more, waiting until 1966 to do so. For the next twenty years, the drinking age was 18 (as it was in many states to mirror the lowering of the voting age to 18) until Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which pressured the Mississippi legislature to raise the age to 21 in 1986. More information regarding the 18th amendment available @wikipedia.org.

Kate Adams No. 3, a mail carrier ship, burns in Memphis in 1927. Arson is suspected since “the Kate” appeared in the film version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. More information available @memphismagazine.com.

January 9

Ishman Bracey, blues artist from Byram, MS, is born in 1901. He played in the 1920s with such local celebrities as Charlie McCoy and Tommy Johnson. After the second world war, he moved away from the music business to become a Baptist minister in Jackson. He died in Jackson in 1970 at the age of 69. More information available @msbluestrail.org.

Mississippi becomes the second state to secede from the Union in 1861. This followed the secession of South Carolina. The document enumerating the reasons for Mississippi’s secession can be found @sunsite.utk.edu.

For a few weeks in 1861, the old Bonnie Blue Flag of 1810 becomes the new Sovereign Republic of Mississippi’s national flag. This followed the passage of the Ordinance of Succession in Mississippi. Its lone star symbolized its claims for independence as it had in 1810 when Mississippi’s coastal counties formed the Republic of West Florida. More information available @ms.gov.

January 12

Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway, a Democrat from Arkansas, becomes the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 1932. She started her political career when asked to fill in for her husband, Senator Thaddeus Caraway, after his death.  Aside from being the first woman elected to the Senate, she was also the first woman to preside over the Senate, chair a committee, and preside over a senate hearing.  Her political career lasted from 1932 until 1945.  More information available @encyclopediaofarkansas.net.

“Mississippi” Fred McDowell, a blues singer in the North Mississippi style, is born in Rossville, TN in 1904. While similar to the Delta Blues, his north hill country blues style is understood as closer in structure to its African roots. More info available @msbluestrail.org.

January 13

Kent Hull, who played center for the New Jersey Generals of the USFL and the Buffalo Bills of the NFL, is born in Greenwood, MS in 1960. A native of Pontohoc, MS, he attended Mississippi State and was eventually inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1997  and the Mississippi State University Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.  He also received the Ralph C. Wilson Distinguished Service Award in 2001 and was the 19th inductee to the Wall of Fame at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, New York in 2002.  More information available @buffalosportshallfame.com.

January 14

George Wallace, elected as Alabama’s governor on four occasions in 1963, 1971, 1975, and 1983, is inaugurated for the first time, promising his followers, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” Born in Clio, Alabama on August 25, 1919, his political career also led him to run for President of the United States of America in 1962, 1972, 1976, and 1968; however, he is best known for his Southern populist, pro-segregation attitudes during the American desegregation period. More information available @archives.alabama.gov.

January 15

Martin Luther King Jr., a Civil Rights leader, preacher, and orator, is born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929.  Dr. King became an iconic figure in the African American Civil Rights Movement, and his work led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the March on Washington in 1963. At the march, he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, expanding American values to include the vision of a color blind society. In 1964, he received a Noble Peace Prize for his non-violent endeavors to end racial discrimination.  After his assassination in 1968, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and a Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.  More information available @martinlutherking.org.

Earl Hooker, blues artist from Clarksdale, MS, is born in 1930. A Chicago blues guitarist, Hooker never achieved the commercial success of his contemporaries because he rarely sang. However, B.B. King was an avid fan of his playing, calling Hooker “the best of modern guitarists.” He was also known as a flamboyant showman for his flashy clothes and guitar playing by his teeth and behind his back. He died in 1970 at the age of 41 from tuberculosis. More information available @wikipedia.org.

January 16

Hiram Revels, the first African American senator from MS, dies in Aberdeen, MS in 1901. Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1822, he served as his brother’s apprentice in a barber shop as a teenager. After attending Knox College and seminary school, he represented Mississippi in the Senate from 1870 to 1871 and later served as the President of Alcorn College until 1882.  As of 2007, he is one of only five African Americans to serve on the Senate.  More information available @bioguide.congress.gov

January 17

James Earl Jones, Emmy and Tony award recipient, is born in Arkabutla, MS in 1931. While he spent the first five years of his life on a farm in Mississippi with his grandparents, their sudden relocation to Michigan when he was only five led him to develop a stutter.  Barely talking to his family and completely mute in school, he did not overcome the stutter until encouraged to recite his poetry by a high school teacher.  He has starred in several movies such as Coming to America, Roots, and Star Wars. He also has served as the voice of such animated characters as Mufasa in The Lion King.  More information available @achievement.org.

The Great March is held in Columbia, SC in 2000 to protest the Confederate Flag. Attended by almost 50,000 people, it was the largest protest to date in the South. More information available @nytimes.com.

January 18

Beth Jacks, a Cleveland author known for her poetry and short stories for children, is born in 1944. A graduate of Millsaps College and the University of Mississippi, she has had her work published in magazines such as the Delta Magazine, Pockets, Boys Quest, Kids' Highway, Working Writer, Lighthouse Story Collections, and several others. More information available @usadeepsouth.ms11.net.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee is born in Westmoreland County, VA in 1807. A top graduate of West Point, Lee distinguished himself as an exceptional officer and engineer in the US Army for 32 years before resigning to join the Confederate cause because of his loyalty to his home state of Virginia. The Confederate General soon emerged as the shrewdest battlefield tactician of the war, and he remains a Southern hero of the war and an icon figure of American military leadership today. More information available @wikipedia.org.

January 19

Willie Dixon, a native of Vicksburg, MS, is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the ninth annual induction dinner in 1995. As a teenager, he hitchhiked to Chicago and later became a producer for Chess and Checker Records. Proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar in addition to his singing abilities, he was one of the most prolific songwriters of his time and is recognized as one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound. He worked with Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and several others.  More information available @bluesheaven.com.

January 20

Britain’s rising punk-rock stars The Clash start their first U.S. tour in 1979 with rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley as their handpicked opening act. More info on the Clash @theclashonline.com. More info on Bo Diddley @bodiddley.com.

18 years after his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is made a national holiday in 1986. He was assassinated in Memphis on his way to Marks, MS to kick off the state’s contingent of the Poor People's campaign, known as the Mule Train because it was lead by mule driven covered wagons.  More information available on Martin Luther King Day @http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/martin-luther-king-day, and more information on the Mule Train available @bampfa.berkeley.edu.

Alcorn State University is founded in Lorman, MS in 1871. The university took it names from James L. Alcorn, then governor of Mississippi. While the school was first exclusively for black males, women were admitted in 1895 and now outnumber men 3:2. The student body has grown overall from 179 local students to more than 3,000 students from all over the world. More information is available @alcorn.edu.

January 21

William Alexander Percy, who is best known for his autobiography Lanterns on the Levee, dies in 1942. Born on May 14, 1885 in Greenville, MS, he was a lawyer, planter, and poet. He served in World War I and was in charge of the relief efforts during the flood of 1927.  More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Muddy Waters, the American bluesman considered to be the father of modern Chicago blues, is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the second annual induction dinner in 1987. Born in Issaquena County, Mississippi on April 4, 1915, he is largely credited with inspiring the British blues explosion in the 1960s. The Rolling Stones named themselves after his 1950 song “Rollin Stone”, a song that Jimi Hendrix also covered. More information available @pbs.org.

Bo Diddley, an American rhythm and blues vocalist from McComb, MS, is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the second annual induction dinner in 1987. Born Otha Ellas Bates on December 28, 1928, he was a key player in the transition from blues to rock & roll, influencing such artists as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Eric Clapton. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar. More info available @bo-diddley.com.

January 22

Food writer, cookbook author, and critic Craig Claiborne from Indianola, MS dies in 2000. He is especially known for his role as an editor at the NY Times. To see his work at the Times, visit nytimes.com. More information available on Claiborne @wikipedia.org.

Sam Cooke, the famous soul, R&B, and gospel singer, is born in Clarksdale in 1931. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music and is commonly known as the King of Soul, having 29 top-40 hits in the U.S. between 1957 and 1964. Among the first modern black performers to attend to the business side of his musical career, he founded both a record label and a publishing company and took an active role in the Civil Rights Movement. More information available @wikipedia.org.

January 23

The second major New Madrid Earthquake strikes in 1812 near New Madrid Fault in Missouri.  Consequently, the course of the Mississippi River was changed, portions of the land sank, and new lakes were created.  More info available @geology.siu.edu.

Issaquena County is created in 1844. Just before the Civil War, the county had the highest concentration of slaves at 92.5% with 115 owners holding 7,224 slaves. As of 2010, the population was 1,406 with 33.20% of the population below the poverty line. Issaquena County has the second lowest per capita income in Mississippi. More information available @rootsweb.ancestry.com.

Sam Cooke, the famous soul, R&B, and gospel singer seen as a pioneer and founder of the former genre, is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first induction dinner in New York City in 1986. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Dr. James D. Hardy performs the world’s first heart transplant surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1964. Serving as the chairman of the Department of Surgery for the University of Mississippi Medical Center from 1955 until 1987, he is known for performing the first human heart and lung transplant and  writing over 500 medical articles.  He took great pride in training surgeons in Mississippi.  More information available @umc.edu.

The 24th amendment of the US Constitution is ratified in 1964, abolishing the poll tax and thereby removing a major obstacle for low-income individuals.  Lyndon Johnson remarked as he signed the bill, “There can be no one too poor to vote.” More information available @americaslibrary.gov.

Robert Johnson, known as the “King of the Delta Blues”, is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi on May 8, 1911, he was always interested in music as a child, playing the harp, harmonica, and guitar.  During his career, he wrote 29 songs, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org.

John Bright Russell, a popular comedian, country singer, and songwriter, is born in Moorhead in 1940. His most famous song, “Act Naturally”, was made more famous from its recording by both Buck Owens in 1963 and The Beatles in 1965. He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001 and died later the same year.  More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Kenyatta Cornelius Lucas is born in Cleveland, MS in 1979. After playing for East Side High School in Cleveland and for Ole Miss in college, he was drafted by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He has also played for the Carolina Panthers. More information available @wikipedia.org.

January 24

Look magazine publishes the confessions of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, two white men from the Delta who were acquitted in the 1955 kidnapping and murder of Emmett Louis Till, an African-American teenager from Chicago, in 1956. More information available @pbs.org.

January 26

The sovereign Republic of Mississippi adopts a new flag in 1861 with the Bonnie Blue Flag in its canton and a magnolia tree in its center field. More information regarding Mississippian flags available @mcsr.olemiss.edu.

January 27

Elmore James, the “King of the Slide Guitar”, is born in Richland, MS in 1918.  He began making music at the age of 12 using a simple one-string instrument strung up on a shack wall. During World War II, he served in the Navy and, upon his return, began playing the blues around Mississippi. He later moved to Chicago and formed the band, the Broomdusters, a group in which he was noted for his stirring voice and use of loud amplification.  More information available @nps.gov.

January 28

Bennie Thompson, an eight-term US Congressman for the Second Mississippi District, is born in Bolton, MS in 1948. He is both the first Democrat and the first African American to chair the Homeland Security Committee in the House. His district includes most of Jackson and the Delta and is the only majority-black district in the state. More information available @benniethompson.house.gov.

A group of black Mississippians, including Jake Ayers, files suit in 1975 against the governor of the state, the Board of the Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, and all formerly white universities including Delta State. More information available @abcnews.go.com.

January 29

The International Blues Challenge is held in Memphis, TN in 2008. Presented by the Blues Foundation, the Challenge is the world’s largest gathering of blues bands where artists compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition. More information available @blues.org.

Willie James Dixon, an American blues musicians from Vicksburg, MS, dies in 1992. He has been called the “poet laureate of the blues” and “the father of modern Chicago blues”.  A pre-eminent blues songwriter of his era, he is credited with writing more than 500 songs by the end of his career. More information is available @rockhall.com.

Eddie "Playboy" Taylor is born in Benoit, MS in 1923.  He migrated to Chicago where he died on December 25, 1985.  He had a distinguished career and has also been credited with teaching Jimmy Reed how to play the guitar. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

January 30

Martin Luther King's house is bombed in 1956. The bombing inspired the MIA to file a federal suit directly attacking the laws establishing bus segregation. More information available @gale.cengage.com.

January 31

The US Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment to abolish slavery in 1865. Although the Delta was sparsely settled prior to the 1870s, tens of thousands of slaves lived in the region when emancipation was enacted. More info available @ourdocuments.gov.

Blues artist Roosevelt Sykes, also known as the “Honeydripper” is born in Elmar, AR in 1906. His pounding piano boogie sand risqué lyrics characterize his contributons to the blues. He was responsible for influential blues songs such as “44 Blues,” “Driving Wheel,” and “Night Time Is the Right Time.” Dying from a heart attack in 1983, he was later inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1999. More info @allaboutjazz.com.

Blues artist Charlie Musselwhite is born in Kosciusko, MS in 1944. A blues-harp player and bandleader and one of the non-black bluesmen who came to prominence in the early 1960s, he has released more than 20 albums over the course of his career beginning in 1967. He was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2010. More information available @charliemusselwhite.com.

The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale opens its doors for the first time in 1979. More information is available @deltabluesmuseum.org.

 

February

February 1

Bessie Smith, known as the “Empress of the Blues”, records “Down Hearted Blues” in 1923, a song that is coupled with “Gulf Coast Blues” to become her first big hit. Born in Chattanooga, TN in 1892 or 1894 (sources report differently), she toured through the south and other northern cities in the 1920s as one of the highest paid black entertainers. She was killed in a car accident in Clarksdale, MS, leaving behind 160 recordings of her work.  More information available @pbs.org.

Amzie Moore, Civil Rights activist, WWII veteran, and businessman, dies in Cleveland in 1982. Upon his return from the war, he initially worked at the post office in Cleveland, MS but later owned his own gas station, beauty shop, and grocery store on Highway 61.  He was a member of the NAACP, helped start the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, organized a rally of 10,000 blacks, and founded the first black Boy Scout troop in Cleveland.  As a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, he opened up his home for other activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis. More information available @fannielouhamer.com.

Black college students from North Carolina A & T University refuse to leave a Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960. This began other sit-ins in college towns across the south. More information available @americanhistory.si.edu.

February 2

The Blues Foundation awards the Mississippi Blues Commission and Mississippi Tourism Authority a “Keeping the Blues Alive” award for the Mississippi Blues Heritage Trial in 2008. More information available @blues.org.

February 3

William Hodding Carter II, a writer associated with Greenville, MS, is born in Hammond, LA in 1907.  After completing college and graduate school, he worked as a reporter for the New Orleans Item-Tribune (1929), the United Press in New Orleans (1930), and the Associated Press in Jackson, MS (1931-32).  In 1932, he founded the Hammond Daily Courier, and, in 1939, he moved to Greenville, MS to start the Greenville Delta Democrat Times.  In 1946, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials that lambasted the ill-treatment of Japanese-American soldiers returning from WWII. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Union forces blast the Mississippi River levee to enable a flotilla to use Moon Lake and the Yazoo Pass in a futile effort to reach Vicksburg by way of the Coldwater, Tallahatchie, and Yazoo rivers in 1863. More information regarding the role of the Yazooans in the Civil War available @yazoo.org.

The 15th amendment, which gives all races the right to vote, is ratified in 1870. Although ratified on this date, the promise of the 15th amendment would not fully realized for almost a century. Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. More information available @loc.gov.

Sharecropper Luther Holbert murders planter James Eastland and field hand Albert Carr during a fight over a woman in Doddsville, MS in 1904. Despite their attempt to escape the subsequent mob that formed in response, they were captured, tied to trees, mutilated with knives, and burned. The audience of 600 spectators purportedly enjoyed treats in a festive atmosphere during the lynching. More information available @ferris.edu.

Tunica County is one of ten counties created from Chickasaw Indian Territory in 1836. More information available @rootsweb.ancestry.com.

February 4

Delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana convene to establish the Confederate States of America in 1861. More information available @randyroberts.wordpress.com.  

February 5

 

Minnie M. Cox, the first black female postmaster in the United States, is born in Lexington, MS. She was appointed to the position in Indianola, MS by President Harrison in 1891, and Cox Street and Cox Park were later named in their honor.  She and her husband also opened up the largest black bank in Mississippi called Delta Penny Savings Bank in Indianola. More info available @postalmuseum.si.edu.

Byron de la Beckwith, a white supremacist and member of the Ku Klux Clan, is sentenced by Hinds County Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn to life in prison in 1994 for Medgar Ever’s assassination. While he had been tried for the murder, part of a violent campaign against racial integration and the Civil Rights movement, in the early 1960s, the all-white jury was repeatedly unable to reach a verdict. In 2001, he died in prison of heart problems.  More information available @time.com.

Medgar Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Decatur, MS involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. After returning from service in WWII, he became a field secretary for the NAACP and the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. He was buried on June 19, 1963, in Arlington National Cemetery, receiving full military honors.  His murder and resulting trials inspired protests and numerous artistic pieces.

Director Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala, partially filmed in Greenwood, MS, is released in 1992. Starring Denzel Washington, the film explores interracial romance between African Americans and Indian Americans and the prejudices that can result. More information available @wikipedia.org.

February 6

The first organized immigration of freed slaves to Africa from United States departs for Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa in 1792. The city had been founded 28 years prior and is the oldest capital to be founded by freed American slaves. More information available @wikipedia.org.

February 7

The third and biggest New Madrid earthquake strikes in 1812. Scientists believe it could have registered as high as an 8.5 on today’s Richter scale. The Mississippi River supposedly flowed backwards following the quake. More information available @geology.siu.edu.

A committee is formed to create the state flag of Mississippi in 1894. Many individuals, including Morgan Freeman, continue to advocate for the abandonment of the Confederate emblem from the flag. However, the referendum that would have scrapped the flag was defeated in 2001 by an overwhelming proportion of Mississippi’s white voters. More information regarding Mississippian flags available @mcsr.olemiss.edu.

February 8

John Grisham, an author born in Arkansas best known for his legal thrillers, is born in Jonesboro, AR in 1955. After practicing law for a decade, he served in Mississippi’s House of Representatives for six years. He has written several bestselling books including A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Chamber, and The Partner.  Grisham is one of only three authors to sell two million copies on a first printing, the others being Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling. More info @jgrisham.com.

Eddie “Guitar” Burns, a harmonica and guitar player, is born in Belzoni, MS in 1928. His career has spanned seven decades, and, in terms of Detroit bluesmen, Burns is deemed second only in stature to John Lee Hooker. More info available @wikipedia.org.

February 9

Tyrone Davis, known as “Chicago King of the Romantic Soul”, dies in 2005. Born May 4, 1938 in Greenville, MS, he was a leading American soul singer with a distinctive style, recording a long list of hit records over a period of more than 30 years. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

The Confederate States of America is formed in 1861 with Jefferson Davis as President. A union of 11 Southern slave states that had declared secession from the US, the Confederacy governed from 1861 to 1865 when the fledgling nation ran out of men, supplies, and public support. More information available @civilwarhome.com.

The Great Ice Storm of 1994 hits the South. The storm produced over $3 billion in damages and cleanup costs, killing at least 9 and leaving thousands without power for days and some (particularly in the Delta) for several weeks.  More info available @alabamawx.com.

Bolivar, Coahoma, and Desoto counties are created in 1836. More information available @e-referencedesk.com.

February 10

Jefferson Davis learns that he has been selected as president of the Confederate States of America in 1861. He was unanimously elected at a constitutional convention in Montgomery, AL largely because he was a well-known moderate known to have a great deal of experience. Purportedly, Davis actually wanted to serve as a general in the Confederate States Army and not as the president. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Sam Cooke hits #2 on the R&B chart and #8 on the pop chart with “Young Blood” in 1959. More information available @rockhall.com.

February 12

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded by a multiracial group of activists in 1909. It was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, IL. Today, it is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization and has more than half of a million members worldwide. More information available @naacp.org.

The doors of the Taborian Hospital open in Mound Bayou in 1942, providing hospital care to African Americans in the community. Everyone on the staff, including doctors and nurses, were black, and operating costs came from an $8.40 membership due, an affordable cost for sharecroppers at the time that expanded membership to nearly fifty thousand in 1945. After losing its fraternal status in 1967, the hospital later closed in 1983. During the 1990s, the Knights and Daughters of Tabor began a continuing campaign to renovate original building; however, the hospital remains vacated and in disrepair today. More information available @misspreservation.com.

Big John Wrencher, a blues artist who became famous on Maxwell Street in Chicago, is born in Sunflower, MS in 1923. He played at house parties with such artists as Jimmy Rogers, Claude “Blue Smitty” Smith, and John Henry Barbee. He died of a heart attack in 1977 at the age of 54. More information available @allmusic.com.

Blues artist Ishman Bracey dies in Jackson, MS in 1970. He played in the 1920s with such local celebrities as Charlie McCoy and Tommy Johnson. After the second world war, he moved away from the music business to become a Baptist minister in Jackson. He died in Jackson in 1970 at the age of 69. More info available @msbluestrail.org.

The TN and MS Railroad opens a 12.5 mile stretch from Memphis to Horn Lake Depot in 1856. More information available @hornlake.org.

February 13

Sotheby’s, a premiere auction house, announces the discovery of a long-lost manuscript of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in 1991. More info available @google.com.

February 14

James Wesley Broom is appointed Delta State Teachers College’s first President in 1925.  Previously, he had served as the assistant superintendent of education and a professor at Mississippi Normal School, (now the University of Southern Mississippi). He secured appropriations from the Senate for a girl’s dormitory called Cleveland Hall, housing for the president and dean of the school, a gymnasium, and a laundromat. He died in May of 1926.  More information available @deltastate.edu.

Steve McNair, a native of Mount Olive, MS who spent the majority of his NFL career playing quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, is born in 1973. Having played collegiately for Alcorn State University where he won the 1994 Walter Payton Award as the top player in the NCAA Division-AA. He played in Super Bowl XXXIV with the Titans, was the team’s all-time leading passer, and was All-Pro and Co-MVP in 2003. McNair died on July 4, 2009 when his 20-year-old mistress shot and killed him before turning the gun on herself.  More information available @officialstevemcnair.com.

Luther Holbert and his common law wife are burned to death in a violent lynching on the plantation outside of Doddsville, MS owned by the recently murdered James Easland. More information available @ferris.edu.

February 15

Sunflower County is created in 1844. It was named for the Sunflower River that flows through it. More information available @rootsweb.ancestry.com.

Ethel Wright Mohamed, Belzoni quilting artist, dies in 1992. More information available @mamasdreamworld.com.

Commerce, the first town in Tunica County, is incorporated with a population of 7000 in 1839. It was a river port that once rivaled Memphis as an economic center. However, it was destroyed more than 100 years ago when shifting river currents undermined parts of its downtown. More information available @tunicachamber.com.

February 16

The first train arrives in Leland, MS in 1885. The railroad auditor C.E. Armstrong named the town Leland in honor of his sweetheart Lela McCutcheon. More information available @lelandms.org.

Delta State Teachers College becomes Delta State College in 1955. More information available @wikipedia.org.

James “Super Chikan” Johnson, a blues musician famous for the guitars he makes out of gas cans, is born in Clarksdale, MS in 1951. Having spent his childhood moving from town to town in the Delta, he is best known for performing regularly at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero blues club. More information available @superchikan.com.

Margaret Wade, a basketball player and coach born in McCool, MS, dies in Cleveland, MS in 1995. After coaching the Cleveland High School basketball team for 25 seasons with a 453-89-6 record, she took a coaching position at Delta State in 1973 to restart their women’s basketball team, going on to win three consecutive national championships at the AIAW Women’s Basketball Tournament. She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985 and into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. More information available @gostatesmen.com.

February 17

The Delta becomes part of the United States of America once more when Mississippi becomes the ninth state readmitted to the U.S. following the Civil War in 1870. More information available @usconstitution.net.

February 18

Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, famed trumpeter and composer, is born in Leland, MS in 1941.  Having studied a variety of music cultures, he created a jazz and world music theory including a notation system called “Ankhrasmation.”  Currently, he is a professor of music at California Institute of the Arts.   More information available @adagio.calarts.edu.

Myrlie Evers-Williams becomes the first woman and Mississippian to be elected to chair the board of the NAACP in 1995. Married to Medgar Evers, she took it upon herself after his death to obtain a college degree, later becoming the Director of Consumer Affairs at Atlantic Richfield Company.  She was also the first African American woman to serve as the commissioner for the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.  More information available @olemiss.com.

February 19

 

Clifton Taulbert, author of nonfiction and children’s books, is born in Glen Allan, MS in 1945. He Best known for his book Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored, he is a recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Nonfiction (1993) and the NAACP Image award for Literature (1996) and was named an Outstanding Black Entrepreneur by TIME Magazine for his efforts as president and founder of the Building Community Institute. More info available @olemiss.edu.

James Oliver Eastland, known as “Big Jim” and as a segregationist US Senator from Mississippi, dies in 1986. Born in Doddsville, MS and raised on a cotton farm, he briefly served in the US Senate in 1941 and again from 1943 until his resignation in 1978. He was most senior member of the Senate at the time of his retirement and is best known for his strong support of states’ rights and for his opposition to the civil rights movement.  More information available @senate.gov.  

Sam Myers, blues musician and songwriter, is born in Laurel, MS in 1936. Growing up with severe cataracts that impaired his vision, he found a passion that required nothing but deft fingers and an attuned ear: music. After receiving a scholarship and attending the American Conservatory School of Music in Chicago, he later joined Anson Funderburgh’s band, The Rockets, in 1986. He died on July 17, 2006 while recovering from surgery at home. More information available @sweetsamyers.com.

Senators W.B. Roberts and Arthur Marshall introduce Senate Bill 236, which creates Delta State Teachers College in 1924. More information available @wikipedia.org.

February 20

Writer Ellen Gilchrist is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1935. A writer of poems, short stories, novels, and nonfiction commentaries, she is best known for her short fiction, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams, and a collection of stories called Victory Over Japan, which won the 1984 American Book Award. More info available @olemiss.edu.

February 21

Vicksburg National Military Park is established in 1899 to honor the Battle of Vicksburg, a major battle of the Civil War. More information available @nps.gov.

CSA Major General William Loring begins construction of Fort Pemberton outside of Greenwood, MS in 1863. More information available @wikipedia.org.

An F4 Tornado strikes Inverness in 1971, destroying it and many other towns in Leflore County while killing 47 people. More information available @fema.gov.

February 22

Willie Dixon, American bluesman, songwriter, and record producer from Vicksburg, MS, wins a Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Traditional Blues Recording for his 1988 album Hidden Charms. As a teenager, he hitchhiked to Chicago and later became a producer for Chess and Checker Records. Proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar in addition to his singing abilities, he was one of the most prolific songwriters of his time and is recognized as one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound. He worked with Chuck BerryMuddy Watersand several others.  More information available @bluesheaven.org and @afgen.com.

February 23

Blues guitarist Johnny Winter is born in Beaumont, TX in 1944. He spent a small portion of his childhood in Leland, MS. Best known for his late 1960s and 1970s high-energy blues-rock albums and live performances, Winter also produced three Grammy Award-winning albums for blues legend Muddy Water. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988 and is ranked among the greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone. More information available @johnnywinter.net.

Mississippi reenters the Union, and Hiram Revels is sworn in as the first African American US Senator in 1870, representing Mississippi. He is one of only six African Americans ever to have served in the US Senate HE spoke for compromise and moderation as a senator, advocating for racial equality and reassuring his fellow senators about the capability of blacks. More info @bioguide.congress.gov.

February 24

Tennessee Williams, author from Columbus, MS who won Pulitzer Prizes for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, dies in New York City in 1983. He has written several plays and received a Pulitzer Prize for A Streetcar Named Desire.  Considered to be the most influential American playwright of the 20th century, he won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980, and his plays remain among the most produced in the world. More information available @nytimes.com.

February 25

Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, MS and first African American ever to sit in Congress, is sworn into the US Senate in 1870. Born in Fayetteville, North Carolina on September 27, 1822, he represented Mississippi in the Senate from 1870 to 1871. He also served as the President of Alcorn College until 1882.  As of 2007, he is only one of five African Americans to serve on the Senate.  More information available @ncpedia.org.

February 26

Bukka White, musician and uncle to BB King, dies in 1977. Born on November 12, 1909 in Houston, MS, he began playing the fiddle at square dances at an early age. During his musical career, he was known for his blues singing and playing of the national steel guitar.  During the time he spent in Parchman Farm State prison, he recorded “Shake ‘Em on Down” and “Po’ Boy,” which became very well known.  More information available @nps.gov.

February 27

Wharlest Jackson, an NAACP activist, is killed in Natchez, MS after he receives a promotion to what was deemed a “white” job in 1967. An employee of Armstrong Rubber Company, he received a promotion that allowed him to mix chemicals as opposed to his previous job of simply making tires. More information available @coldcases.org.

Othar (Otha) Turner, a famous fife player, dies in 2003. Born in Gravel Springs, MS, he began playing the fife at the age of 16, making the instrument from sugarcane. His band, The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, propelled him to become the recipient of such awards as the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award and the Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

February 28

Jimmy Travis, member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is shot outside of Greenwood, MS in 1963.  On many occasions in the early 1960s, SNCC officers were sprayed with bullets or torched by local whites who opposed their efforts to register black voters. More information available @ibilio.org.

Yazoo-Mississippi Levee Board is created by the Mississippi Legislature in 1884. The Board has a long history of erecting, maintaining, and operating a system of levees to protect the people and property of the Delta from the damages caused by the elevated waters of the Mississippi River as well as interior rivers and streams. More information available @leveeboard.org.

February 29

Hattie McDaniel, Mammy from Gone With the Wind, wins an Oscar for best supporting actress in 1940. Despite not being allowed to attend the premiere of the movie in Atlanta because of George’s segregationist laws at the time, she did attend its Hollywood debut. She is also the first African American ever to win an Oscar. Born in Wichita, KS in 1895, she starred in such movies as The Golden West, Saratoga, and Since You Went Away and died in 1952.  More available @notablebiographies.com.

Bo Diddley receives the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996 at the seventh annual Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards in Los Angeles, CA. More information available @bodiddley.com.

 

March

 

March 1

Blanche Kelso Bruce, resident of Rosedale, MS and the first African American to serve a full term in the US Senate, is born into slavery near Farmville, VA in 1841. Before being elected to the Senate, he was the sheriff of Bolivar County and the tax assessor for Tallahatchie County.  More information available @baic.house.gov.

Leroy Percy, iconic plantation owner and former US Senator, introduces and passes a resolution to remove the KKK from Greenville in 1922. After letting Klan leader Joseph Camp finish his diatribe regarding blacks, Jews, and Catholics, Percy proceeded to rebuff his ideas in his own speech to thunderous applause. His son, William Alexander Percy, is famous for leading the relief efforts during the 1927 Flood. More information available @pbs.org.

Bluesman Walter Davis, who played with Henry Townsend and Peetie Wheatstraw, is born in Grenada, MS in 1912. He was among the most productive and popular recording artists in blues during the 1930s and 40s, cutting about 180 sides. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2005. More information available @sundayblues.org.

March 2

Bo Diddley releases his monumental first single, “Bo Diddley/I’ma Man,” on Checkers Records in 1955. It tops the R&B chart for two weeks. Born Otha Ellas Bates on December 28, 1928, Diddley was a key player in the transition from blues to rock & roll, influencing such artists as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Eric Clapton. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar. More info available @bodiddley.com.

March 3

Jackie Brentson and His Delta Cats records “Rocket 88” at Sam Phillip’s Sun Studios in 1951. Rocket 88 was recognized as the very first rock n’ roll song by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because of the distortion that can be heard from the guitars. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Town of Tunica is incorporated in 1888. Today, Tunica is known for its casinos, the product of state legislation in the 1990s that sought to introduce the gambling businesses into communities around the Mississippi River. One of the few towns to approve the idea, Tunica has subsequently seen an economic boom that has allowed the city to improve its infrastructure and bring other businesses to the area. More information available @tunica.com.

March 4

Blanche Kelso Bruce, born into slavery, begins his first term as US Senator for Mississippi in 1875. His father owned a plantation in Virginia and his mother was a house slave. He was raised and educated with his half brother. More information available @baic.house.gov.

T.R.M. Howard, African American civil rights activist and Taborian Hospital Surgeon, is born in 1908 in Murray, KY. He was one of the mentors to activists such as Medgar Evers, Charles Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, and Jesse Jackson, founded Mississippi’s leading civil rights organization in the 1950s, the Regional Council of Negro leadership, and played a prominent role in the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of Emmet Till. He was also president of the National Medical Association and chairman of the board of the National Negro Business League. More information available @trmhoward.com.

March 5

Isaiah Thornton Montgomery, founder of Mound Bayou and former slave, dies in 1924. Born a slave in 1847, he was the property of Joseph Davis, the older brother of Jefferson Davis. Davis sold his plantation to Montgomery’s father, and they turned this into Mound Bayou, a cooperative community of freed slaves. Close friends with Booker T. Washington, he utilized the educational theories promoted by him in Mound Bayou. More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

The first organizational meeting for the creation of the Delta Council is held in 1935. They were organized on the campus of Delta State University where they still hold their annual meetings. It seeks to provide a medium through which agricultural, business, and professional leadership in the area can work to solve common problems and promote the development of the economy of the area. More info available @deltastate.edu.

March 6

Walter “Furry” Lewis, famed blues guitarist, is born in 1893 in Greenwood, MS. Interested in music from a young age, he made his first guitar out of a cigar box and screen door wire. He first recorded in 1927, but the Great Depression brought his musical career to a standstill, forcing him to become a street sweeper in Memphis during the day hours.  He was rediscovered in 1959 and subsequently released two albums: Back on my Feet Again and Done Changed my Mind. Popular at Folk and Blues festivals, he also performed with such rock and roll groups as The Rolling Stones.  He died in September of 1981.  More info available @nps.gov.

Marion Barry, two-term Mayor of Washington, DC, is born in Itta Bena, MS in 1936. In the 1960s, he was involved in the Civil Rights movement, serving as the president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Despite Barry serving six months for possession of crack cocaine in 1990, he returned to the mayoralty in 1994 to serve a second elected term. He currently serves as a member of the Council of the District of Columbia and remains a figure of significant popularity and influence on the local political scene in DC. More information available @dccouncil.com.

Musician Mary Wilson of the Supremes is born in Greenville, MS in 1944. The Supremes was a Motown female singing group that gained fame during the 1960s and 1970s. While she regularly performs concerts of their music, she has also gone on to become an acclaimed jazz and blues singer, humanitarian, and successful political advocate for artists’ rights. She has published three autobiographies. More information available @marywilson.com.

March 7

Alexander Graham Bell, eminent scientist, inventor, and engineer, patents the first practical telephone, the invention he is best known for, in 1876. Born in Scotland on March 3 1847, he did not become a US citizen until 1882. He was the founder for the National Geographic Society in 1888.  More information available @pbs.org.

March 10

James Earl Ray pleads guilty to the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and is sentenced to 99 years in prison in 1969. A few months before Dr. King was assassinated, Ray had escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary. He had also been on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List twice.  He later recanted his confession and tried unsuccessfully to gain a trial. He died in prison in 1998. More information available @notablebiographies.com.

A peaceful sit-in is held outside the office of Delta State President Ewing’s office in 1969 to protest the disregard of a list of demands previously presented to the administration. He responded by having all participants sent to Parchman Penitentiary for the night. In 2009, the Delta State alumni who had demonstrated were honored during a program celebrating diversity. The actions of the students have now been seen as a turning point for race relations at Delta State. More info available @deltastate.edu

March 13

“Hoochie Coochie Man,” written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters (with Dixon playing bass) enters the R&B chart in 1954. It reached #3. More information available @wikipedia.org.

March 14

Civil Rights leader Fanny Lou Hamer dies of breast cancer in the Tabourian Hospital in Mound Bayou in 1977. Born in 1917, Hamer was instrumental in organizing the Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Committee (SNCC) and later became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Her plain-spoken manner and fervent belief in Biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation as an electrifying speaker and constant activist of civil rights. More information available @africawithin.com.

March 15

Governor William A. Waller signs into law the bill granting university status to both Mississippi Valley State and Delta State Universities in 1974.

March 16

Mississippi becomes the last state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1995, which bans slavery. In 1865, the only official pronouncement of Mississippi legislators in regard to the 13th amendment was a resolution rejecting it. During the summer of 1994, letter were sent to all African American members of the Mississippi Senate and House of Representatives, and the following year the amendment was adopted, albeit 130 years tardy. More information available @wikipedia.org.
Muddy Waters receives his first Grammy Award, Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording, for the album, They Call Me Muddy Waters, in 1971.  More information available @muddywaters.com.

March 17

Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first African American to serve a full term in the Senate, dies in 1898. He represented Mississippi from 1875 to 1881.  His father owned a plantation in Virginia and his mother was a house slave. He was raised and educated with his half brother.   Before being elected to the Senate, he was the sheriff of Bolivar County and the tax assessor for Tallahatchie County.  More info available @bioguide.congress.gov.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, Civil Rights leader and author, is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1933. Married to Medgar Evers, she took it upon herself after his death to obtain a college degree, later becoming the Director of Consumer Affairs at Atlantic Richfield Company.  She was also the first African American woman to serve as the commissioner for the Los Angeles Board of Public Works.  More information available @olemiss.com.

Twenty-three blacks are shot to death in the Carrollton Courthouse during the “Carrollton Massacre” in 1886. More information available @vaiden.net.

March 18

Unita Blackwell, the first African American woman elected mayor in Mississippi, is born in Lula, MS in 1933. Blackwell was a project director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and helped organize voter drives for African-Americans across Mississippi. She is also the founder of the US China People’s Friendship Association, a group dedicated to promoting cultural exchange between United States and China. Barefootin’, Blackwell’s autobiography, charts her activism and was published in 2006. More information available @blackpast.org.

Country music great Charlie Pride is born in Sledge in 1938. He was featured on 39 number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. His greatest success came in the early to mid-1970s when he became the best-selling performer of RCA Records since Elvis Presley. Pride is one of the few black country musicians to have had considerable success in the largely white country music industry. More information available @cmt.com.

March 19

George A. Morris, American football player MS Sports Hall of Fame inductee, is born in Vicksburg in 1931. He played college football for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and professionally for the San Francisco 49ers for only one season in 1956. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981 and died in 2007. More information available @sports.espn.go.com.

March 21

Eddie J. “Son” House Jr., blues musician, is born in Riverton, MS in 1902. A young Baptist preacher before becoming a bluesman, he played with Robert Johnson, Charley Payton, and Willie Brown.  He recorded with Paramount Records and the Library of Congress.  More information available @nps.gov.

Bo Carter, popular bluesman and member of the Mississippi Shieks Armenter, is born in Bolton, MS in 1893. One of the most popular blues musicians during the 1930s, he continued to play music even as his vision started to deteriorate. While known to compose sensitive, introspective songs, he added such tracks as “Banana in Your Fruit Basket” and “Please Warm My Weiner” to his final record that lost him appeal with the public in the 1940s. He died in poverty in 1964. More info @wikipedia.org.

Otis Spann, a “Chicago Blues” artist, is born in Jackson, MS in 1930. He is considered Chicago’s leading postwar blues pianist and studied under Pinetop Perkins of Belzoni, MS. Posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, he is remembered for his distinct piano style. More information available @rhythmandtheblues.org.uk.

Collier’s Weekly describes Leland, MS in 1908 as the “Hellhole of the Delta” due to the availability of gambling, alcohol, and cocaine. More informatoin available @lelandms.org.

DJ Alan Freed hosts the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first “rock n’ roll” concert, in Cleveland, OH in 1952. Authorities shut it down halfway through the first song officially because the stadium was grossly overfilled. However, it’s suspected that the concert’s racially mixed audience was a contributing factor. More information available @wikipedia.org.

March 22

Martin Luther King Jr. is accused of heading up an illegal boycott in 1956. When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat in a city bus in Montgomery, AL, the Montgomery Bus Boycott followed for 385 days, led by E.D. Nixon and Dr. King. Instead of bringing him to jail, King’s trial resulted in the US District Court ruling that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. More information available @watson.org.

Mississippi becomes the last state to ratify the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, which gives women the right to vote, in 1984. Federal law trumped Mississippi’s equivocation so women could still vote after the amendment’s passage; however, most states had ratified the amendment more than 60 years earlier. Chief among politician’s fears regarding women’s right to vote was that they would make it impossible to repeal the 18th amendment, which prohibited the sale of liquor. More information available @guardian.co.uk.

March 23

George “Boomer” Scott, Boston Red Sox baseball player and manager and MS Sports Hall of Fame inductee, is born in Greenville, MS in 1944. A three-time All-Star player for the Red Sox, Boomer won the A.L. home-run and runs batted-in titles in 1975 (sharing the former title with Reggie Jackson). He finished his 14-season career eight hits shy of 2,000 with 251 home runs and 1,051 runs batted in. More information available @top100redsox.blogspot.com.

March 24

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll,” is inducted into the Army in 1958. Presley enlisted as a private at Fort Chaffee, AR; his wish was to be treated no differently than anyone else. At the time, Presley was convinced his musical career had come to its end. He was introduced to both amphetamines and karate in the Army, both of which he continued to use after his departure from the service. Because of the amount of unreleased material his producer had held onto, Presley had ten top 40 hits while he served. More information available @elvis.com.

March 25

Charles Banks, a black businessman and founder of Mound Bayou, is born in Clarksdale in 1873. Among many successes, Banks was head of the first bank in Mound Bayou, opened in 1904. More information available @thefreelibrary.com.

Ida B. Wells, an African American civil rights advocate and women’s rights activist, who documented numerous lynchings, dies in 1931. Born in 1862, she quit high school to take care of her brothers and sisters after her parents died of yellow fever. She was a strong supporter of women’s rights and helped lead a campaign against segregation on trains after she herself was thrown off for not giving up her seat. More information available @duke.edu.

Lawrence Gordon, producer of such films as the Die Hard series, Predator, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, is born in Yazoo City, MS in 1936. Growing up in Belzoni, MS, he served as the president of 20th Century Fox from 1984 to 1986. Afterwards, he formed the Largo Entertainment, producing Field of Dreams in 1989, which received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. More info available @nytimes.com.

March 26

Author Tennessee Williams, who won Pulitzer Prizes for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, is born in Columbus MS in 1911. Having summered in Clarksdale, MS as a boy, he grew up in a variety of difficult family situations that forever shaped the content and characters of his prose. Acknowledged as one of the most accomplished playwrights in the history of the English speaking theater, Williams wrote classics for the American stage that remain among the most produced in the world. More information available @pbs.org.

Stax recording artist Rufus Thomas is born in Cayce, MS in 1917. He was one of the long-standing personalities on WDIA in Memphis, one of the first radio stations in the US geared toward blacks; however, he is also known for his recording career in the 1960s and 1970s when he recorded numerous soul songs that made it in the Hot 100’s top 10. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. More information available @seguerecords.com.

Missionaries organized the first Christian church in the Choctaw Nation in 1819. More information available @choctawnation.com.

March 27

Robert Lockwood, blues guitarist from Helena, AR is born in Tukey Scratch, AR in 1915. Recording for Chess Records among other Chicago labels in the 1950s and 1960s, he is best known as a longtime collaborator of Sonny Boy Williamson II and Little Walter Jacobs. More information available @robertlockwood.com.

The short-lived Magnolia flag was replaced by the Confederacy’s flag in 1861. More information available @mcsr.olemiss.edu.

March 28

W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” dies in 1958. Born in Florence, AL in 1873, he is credited with giving the blues its contemporary form. Also, he is thought to have taken the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music. because he introduced blues to the world.  He performed at such places as Carnegie Hall in 1928, the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, and on an NBC broadcast in 1940. In 1969, the US Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp in his honor, and the most prestigious award for blues artists is named after him in addition to a city park on Beale Street in Memphis, TN and a block of West 52nd Street in Manhattan. More information available @una.edu.

The Confederate Constitution is formally ratified by Mississippi in 1861 only two weeks after its introduction and adoption by the Confederacy. This is understood as one of the more expedited ratifications in Mississippi’s history (as compared to the 65 years it took the Mississippi legislature to ratify the 19th amendment [women’s suffrage] and 130 years for the 13th amendment [prohibition of slavery]). More information available @constitution.org.

March 29

The Port Gibson Main Street Heritage Festival is put on for the first time in 1992, celebrating the history of Port Gibson’s downtown district, the third oldest city in Mississippi. More information available @portgibsonmainstreet.com.

The Mississippi legislature creates the State Sovereignty Commission in 1956 with the mission “to protect the sovereignty of Mississippi from encroachment from thereon by the federal government.” In reality, the state was trying to protect against federal enforcement of civil rights laws. Its initial budget of $250,000 was spent trying to identify those citizens in Mississippi associated with the civil rights movement, communists, and any individual who did not adhere to segregationist norms. While the commission officially closed in 1977, state lawmakers ordered the files sealed until 2027. However, a federal court order opened the records in 1998 to reveal more than 87,000 names about whom the state had collected information in addition to the state’s complicity in the murders of three civil rights workers at Philadelphia, MS. More information available @mdcbowen.org.

Sharkey County is created in 1876. Named for Judge William L. Sharkey, provisional governor of the state in 1865, it was originally carved from territory belonging to the counties of Warren, Washington, and Issaquena. As of 2010, the population was 4,916, and 38.3% of the population is below the poverty line including 50% of those under age 18. Sharkey county has the tenth lowest per capita income in Mississippi. More information available @rootsweb.ancestry.com.

March 30

The Mississippi legislature establishes Casino Road Fund and permits Hwy 61 to be expanded into four lanes in 1994. More info available @tunicacountynaacp.com.

March 31

Greenwood Lefore’s magnificent Carroll County home, Malmaison, burns down in 1942. Leflore was a Choctaw who became a prosperous land owner, farmer, representative, and senator. Chief of the Choctaw tribe before the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, he had many connections in the state and local governments and used them to help secure the largest amount of Indian territory land for any removed tribe. Greenwood and Leflore County in Mississippi are named after him. More information available @aboutgreenwoodms.com.

North Carrollton is chartered in 1899. As of 2000, there were 499 people, 33.5% of which were below the poverty line. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Charley Patton, founder of the Delta Blues, is born in 1891. Having lived most of his life in Sunflower County, MS, his family moved in 1900 to the legendary Dockery Plantation where both John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf were inspired by him. He is known for his harsh, loud voice with which he sang about African American life in the south. Patton’s race remains a subject of debate, and it’s suspected he was a mix of black, white, and Cherokee. His song, “Pony Blues,” was included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2006.  More info available @nps.gov.

 

 

April

April 2

Ponce de Leon, Spanish explorer, discovers Florida in 1513 and becomes the first European to do so. Born in Spain in 1474, he accompanied Christopher Columbus on his expedition to the Americas in 1492.  He discovered the Gulf Stream and founded one of the oldest European colonies in Puerto Rico.  While searching for the Fountain of Youth, he was injured by an arrow during an attack by Native Americans that led to his death.  More information available @fcit.usf.edu.

April 3

The Pony Express, a mail delivery system of the 19th century, begins operating in 1860. It was responsible for communicating important events and carrying mail from Missouri to California.  Today, the stables continue to stand as a tribute to the mail system of old and are available for view in MO by the public. More info available @ponyexpress.org.

April 4

William Hodding Carter II, a writer and reporter from Greenville, MS, dies there in 1972. Born in Hammond, LA in 1907, he worked as a reporter for the New Orleans Item-Tribune (1929), the United Press in New Orleans (1930), and the Associated Press in Jackson, MS (1931-32).  In 1932, he founded the Hammond Daily Courier, and, in 1939, he moved to Greenville, MS to start the Greenville Delta Democrat Times.  In 1946, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials that lambasted the poor treatment Japanese-American soldiers received when they returned from WWII. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Martin Luther King Jr. is shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1967. Rooming there during his stay in Memphis to support the strike of black sanitary public works employees, King delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address at the Mason Temple only the night before, saying, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that we as a people will get there. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” More information available @history1900s.about.com.

Muddy Waters, the father of modern Chicago blues, is born in Rolling Fork, MS in 1915. A major inspiration for the British blues explosion of the 1960s, he is ranked #17 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. More information available @muddywaters.com.

April 5

The Battle at Fort Pemberton begins with the scuttling of the Star of the West in the Yazoo River at Greenwood, MS in 1863. More information available @wikipedia.org.

April 6

The Battle of Shiloh begins in 1862. A major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, Shiloh pitted Union General Grant and Confederate Generals Johnston and Beauregard against each other in southwestern Tennessee. The Confederates were forces to retreat from the bloodiest battle in United States history up to that time, ending their hopes that they could block the Union advance into northern Mississippi. More information available @civilwar.org.

April 7

The Mississippi Territory is organized from land ceded by Georgia and South Carolina in 1798. It existed until December 10, 1817, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Mississippi. More info available @wikipedia.org.

Winterville Mounds is officially recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 2001. The site consists of flat-topped, rectangular ceremonial mounds of various sizes that were constructed during the Mississippian period, between 1200 and 1250 AD. More information @nps.gov.

Hodding Carter III is born in New Orleans, LA in 1935. A journalist and politician best known for his role as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the Jimmy Carter administration, he was born to journalist and publisher William Hodding Carter II and grew up in Greenville, MS. More information available @americanpressinstitute.org.

April 8

Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, known for playing the guitar with his teeth and tongue, dies from lung cancer in 1996 in Chicago. Born in Longwood, MS in 1936. Beginning to play at juke joints with his harmonica at the age of sixteen, he did not form his own band, called the Swinging Gold Coasters, until 1956. He was largely inspired by Howlin’ Wolf, and Howlin’ Wolf even called him “little wolf.” More info available @cascadeblues.org.

April 9

Rene-Robert Cavalier, Seiur de La Salle, arrives at the mouth of the Mississippi and claims the entire Mississippi River Valley (including the Delta) for France in 1862, naming it “Louisiana” after King Louis XIV of France. Born in 1643 in Normandy, France, La Salle explored the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Mississippi River. More information available @knowla.org.

Robert E. Lee surrenders, and the Civil War ends in 1865. The Confederate commander won battles in VA, but his northward advance was turned back with heavy casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg. To the west, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River after their capture of Vicksburg, MS. Split in two and outmatched in men and wartime resources, the Confederacy was soon fatally wounded with the loss of Atlanta, and Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in 1865. More information available @us-civilwar.com.

April 10

Congress passes the Civil Rights Act in 1964, a landmark piece of legislation that outlaws major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and at public facilities. More information available @archives.gov.

One day after surrendering to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, General Robert E. Lee addresses his army for the last time in 1865. More information available @wikipedia.org.

The US Justice Department, in conjunction with the district attorneys for Sunflower, Leflore, and Washington Counties, announce a new investigation into the murder of Emmett Till in 2004. After completing a thorough DNA and anthropological analysis of the body, they found too little evidence to substantiate any of the accusations that had been made. More information available @nytimes.com.

April 11

 

Johnnie Billington, guitarist from Crowder, MS, is born in 1935. Beginning to play guitar at the age of ten, he was playing at clubs throughout the Delta by thirteen. He reunited with his band members in Chicago in 1959 while working as automotive repair mechanic during the day. Returning to Clarksdale, MS in 1977, he began to teach under-privileged children blues music in his repair shop at night, eventually expanding his effort to receive grants from the MS Arts Commission and establish the Delta Blues Education Fund. He has received numerous awards in the Delta for his efforts. More info available @pbs.org.

Luther Johnson, a Chicago blues singer and guitarist known as “Guitar Junior,” is born in Itta Bena, MS in 1939. After performing with Magic Sam and Muddy Waters in the 1960s and 1970s, Johnson fronted his own band and won a Grammy Award in 1985 for Best Traditional Blues Album for his part in Blues Explosion. He now lives in New Hampshire. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Samuel Reeves Keesler, World War I hero, is born in Greenwood, MS in 1896. Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, MS is named in his honor. Posted to the 24th Aero Squadron in the Verdun, France sector of the Western Front, he was unexpectedly attacked by four enemy fighters during a reconnaissance mission. When he lost control of his plane due to enemy fire, he continued to fend off the attackers with machine gun fire even as it fell. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in 1919. More info @militarytimes.com.

Country music artist Steve Azar is born in Greenville, MS in 1964. He released his debut album in 1996 but left the music industry until 2002 when he released his biggest hit, the #2 “I Don’t Have to Be Me (‘Til Monday).” In 2008, he formed his own label, Dang Records, and released Indianola in 2008 and Slide On Over Here in 2009. More information available @steveazar.com.

April 12

The Civil War begins in 1861. Hostilities began when Confederate forces attacked a US military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. President Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state to recapture federal property. This led to declarations of secession by four more slave states. For the next two years, the Confederacy successfully beat back Union efforts to capture its capital, Richmond, VA, until the Battle of Gettysburg turned the tide of war in favor of the Union. More information available @historyplace.com.

George “Boomer” Scott, a professional baseball player from Greenville, MS, makes his professional debut in 1966. He eventually played for the Boston Red Sox, the Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and the Milwaukee Brewers. More information available @georgeboomerscott.com.

April 13

Civil rights activist Sam Block, born in Cleveland, dies in 2000. Remembered for his work with SNCC in Greenwood, he was repeatedly beaten and imprisoned as he fought for voting rights for blacks in his native Mississippi Delta during the 1960s. More information available @nytimes.com.

Author Eudora Welty, American author, is born in Jackson, MS in 1909. She was best known for her short stories and novels regarding the American South. Her book, The Optimist’s Daughter, won the Pulitzer prize in 1973. Welty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among numerous awards. Her house in Jackson is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as a museum. More information available @eudorawelty.org.

Bennie Thompson assumes office in 1993 as Congressman for the second Congressional District of Mississippi, representing the Delta. He currently serves and has chaired the Homeland Security Committee in the House, becoming both the first Democrat and the first African American to do so. More info available @benniethompson.house.gov.

Walter Sillers, a powerful member of the state legislature, prominent lawyer, planter, plantation owner, statesman, and politician, is born in 1888 in Rosedale, MS. An ardent segregationist, he was part of the splinter Dixiecrat movement of 1948. More information available @http://mshistory.k12.ms.us.

Roosevelt Townes and “Bootjack” McDaniels, two black men charged with murdering a white businessman, are publically tortured to death in Duck Hill, MS in 1937. The two men were transported by school bus to the lynching site, where they were tied to pine trees. Before a mob of about 500 white men, women, and children, both Townes and McDaniels were repeatedly burned in the chest with a blow torch; the mob then finished McDaniels off with intense gunfire and Townes off in a gasoline-soaked pyre. No one was ever arrested, and the condemnation the lynching drew only served to drive lynching underground. More information available @time.com.

April 14

Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in 1865. The assassination occurred five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant. The assassination was part of a larger conspiracy to kill the Secretary of State and Vice President as well in order to rally the remaining Confederate troops to continue fighting.  While that part of the plot failed, Lincoln died the next morning from the gunshot wound. More information available @memory.loc.gov.

April 15

Bessie Smith, “Empress of the Blues”, is born in Chattanooga, TN in 1894. Born in Chattanooga, TN in 1892 or 1894 (sources report differently), she toured through the south and other northern cities in the 1920s as one of the highest paid black entertainers. She was killed in a car accident in Clarksdale, MS, leaving behind 160 recordings of her work.  More information available @pbs.org.

Frank Frost, one of the foremost delta blues harmonica players of the 1960s and 70s, is born in Auvergne, AR in 1936. He learned to play harmonica from Sonny Boy Williamson and recorded with Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

April 16

US Admiral David Dixon Porter leads 12 ships past the heavy barrage of Confederate artillery at Vicksburg in 1863. From 1862 to 1863, the Confederates attempted to blockade the Mississippi River by planting heavy batteries on bluffs at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. Grant, however, lost only one ship, and the operation advanced General Ulysses S. Grant’s movement against Vicksburg in 1863. More information available @sonofthesouth.net.

April 17

Musician Sam Carr of the Jelly Roll Kings is born in Friars Point in 1926. Widely acclaimed as one of the best drummers in the blues, he worked with Frank Frost for almost the entirety of his musical career and backed such greats as Sonny Boy Williamson II. In his last ten years, he received annual nominations for Best Drummer in the Blues Music Awards. He was presented with the Heritage Award by Governor Barbour in 2007 and died in 2009 of congestive heart failure. More information available @www.arts.state.ms.us.

The Mississippi Territory, with Natchez as its capital, is surveyed out of the State of Georgia in 1798. At that time it included what became the state of Alabama but did not yet include the Gulf Coast region. More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

April 18

The Hollywood Reporter states in 1932 that William Faulkner, a “writer from the South,” has been hired to write scripts for MGM. Born in Oxford, MS, Faulkner was heavily influenced by his home state as well as by the history and culture of the entire American South. He is considered one of the most important writers of Southern literature. Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of his works, A Fable and The Reivers, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He died on July 6, 1962.  More information available @olemiss.edu.

April 19

The first Choctaw school at Eliot Mission officially commences in 1819. More information available @choctaw.org.

The first blood of the American Civil War is shed in 1861 when a secessionist mob in Baltimore attacks Massachusetts troops. More information available @wikipedia.org.

April 20

Coach Sank Powe is born in Elizabeth, near Leland, MS in 1942. After a brief stint with the St. Louis Cardinals that ended in an injury, Sank returned to Cleveland, MS to receive a job as one of the first black teachers to instruct at the town’s all-white Cleveland High when the schools were integrated in 1970. Within two years, the integrated baseball team he led had won the state championship, and within seven years, he was named Mississippi Baseball Coach of the Year. He has been presented numerous state and national awards for his contributions to sports and race relations. More information available @coachpowefoundation.com.

Blues artist Earl Zebedee Hooker, born in Clarksdale, MS dies in Chicago, IL in 1970. A Chicago blues artist who rarely sang, his own commercial success was limited; however, he was known to possess a tremendous talent with the guitar and was considered the “best of modern guitarists” by B.B. King. More information available @wikipedia.org.

April 21

The Mississippi River crevassed at its levee at Mounds Landing, near Scott, precipitating the Great Flood of 1927 and destroying the Delta. As the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, the Great Flood submerged 27,000 square miles with river water, causing $400 million in damages and killing 246 people in seven states. Arkansas was the hardest hit with 14% of its total land covered in floodwaters. More information available @news.nationalgeographic.com.

Mark Twain dies in 1910. Best known for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain grew up in Hannibal, MO, a frontier setting that provided much of the inspiration for his later novels. He is lauded as the “greatest American humorist of his age” and even the “father of American literature” by William Faulkner. More information available @cmgww.com.

April 22

Downtown Greenville is covered in 10 feet of water following the levee break near Scott, MS in 1927. During the Great Flood of 1927, the Mississippi River broke out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles. The flood caused over $400 million in damages and killed 246 people in seven states. More information available @news.nationalgeographic.com.

The first train arrives in Hernando, MS in 1856. More info available @livingplaces.com.

April 23

James Earl Ray, convicted murderer of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., dies in 1998. A few months before Dr. King was assassinated, Ray had escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary. He had also been on the FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives List twice.  He later recanted his confession and tried unsuccessfully to gain a trial. More information available @notablebiographies.com.

The Natchez Rhythm Club, festooned with dried Spanish moss, catches fire and burns in 1940. Trapped inside the one-story steel-clad wooden building, 203 African Americans lose their lives and many more are injured. At the time, it was the second most deadly building fire in the history of the nation; today, it is ranked as the second deadliest club in US history. More information available @wikipedia.org.

April 24

J. F. H. Claiborne, the “father of Mississippi history,” is born in Natchez in 1807.  A planter, politician, and popular journalist, he wrote in the style of the Southwestern Humorists, but his most notable achievement stems from his interest in his native state’s history. This passion led him to amass an important collection of historical papers, documents, and memorabilia upon which he largely based the first significant historical account of Mississippi. More information available @olemiss.edu.

Otis Spann, a “Chicago Blues” artist dies in Chicago, IL in 1900. Born in Jackson, MS in 1930, he is considered Chicago’s leading postwar blues pianist and studied under Pinetop Perkins of Belzoni, MS. Posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, he is remembered for his distinct piano style. More information available @rhythmandtheblues.org.uk.

April 25

Lynn Hamilton, an African American actress best known as “Donna Harris” on the sitcom Sanford and Son, is born in Yazoo City, MS in 1930. She also had a recurring role on The Waltons and made numerous appearances on many other sitcoms, soap operas, and miniseries. More information available @imdb.com.

Mack Charles Parker, an African American accused of rape, is lynched in Poplarville, MS in 1958. He was accused of raping a pregnant white woman in northern Pearl River County. Three days before he was to stand trial, he was kidnapped from his jail cell by a mob, beaten, and shot. His body was found in the Pearl River ten days later. Despite evidence compiled by the FBI, and indictment by a federal grand jury, the men who killed him were released. Moreover, his murder trial was repeatedly postponed by Jams P. Coleman, governor of Mississippi. More information available @picayuneitem.com.

Albert King, one of the “Three Kings of the Blues Guitar,” is born in Indianola, MS in 1923. By signing onto Stax Records in 1966, King was one of the first blues guitarist to cross over into modern soul, helping to nurture a white interest in blues when the music had fallen out of popularity. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1983 and continued touring throughout the 1980s. He died of a heart attack in 1992. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

April 26

The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDB) is formally founded in Jackson, MS in 1964. Founded during the civil rights movement, the political party was organized by black and white Mississippians to challenge the legitimacy of the white-only US Democratic Party. Prevented from casting their votes in the MS primary election in 1963, African Americans cast “freedom ballots,” an alternative organized by the MFDB to dramatize denial of their voting rights. In 1964, the MFDB sent 68 delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention to challenge the right of the Mississippi Democratic Party’s delegation to participate in the convention because of their election by a segregated process. While they failed in this, they did succeed in dramatizing the violence and injustice by which Mississippi’s governing structure disenfranchised black citizens. More information available @ibiblio.org.

Johnny Shines, a blues singer and guitarist, is born in Frayser, TN in 1915. Inspired by Charley Patton and Howlin’ Wolf, he eventually worked with Robert Johnson and toured the South with him. He played from the 1940s into the 1970s and returned with an album in 1991 that won a W.C. Handy Award. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1992. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Barry Lyons becomes the first former DSU Statesman to hit a major league homerun in 1987. More information available @wikipedia.org.

April 27

The worst maritime disaster in American history occurs when the steamboat Sultana explodes and sinks in the Mississippi River in 1865. An estimated 1800 of the boat’s 2400 passengers were killed when three of the ship’s four boilers exploded. More information available @coax.net.

April 28

Charley Patton, known as the “Father of the Delta Blues,” dies in 1934 at the age of 42 in Indianola. Having lived most of his life in Sunflower County, MS, his family moved in 1900 to the legendary Dockery Plantation where both John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf were inspired by him. He is known for his harsh, loud voice with which he sang about African American life in the south. Patton’s race remains a subject of debate, and it’s suspected he was a mix of black, white, and Cherokee. His song, “Pony Blues,” was included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2006.  More information available @nps.gov.

April 29

John Luther “Casey” Jones leaves Memphis bound for Canton but wrecks near Vaughn in 1900. A locomotive engineer for Illinois Central, Casey stayed aboard, trying to slow the train down and lessen the impact of the crash as he told others to jump off.  As a result of his efforts, he was the only one who died. Wallace Saunders, an African American worker for Illinois Central and a good friend of Casey’s, wrote a song in tribute to Casey Jones following his death. More information available @watervalley.net.

Otis Rush, blues guitarist from Philadelphia, MS, is born in 1935. His sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and became an influence on many musicians including Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton. More info available @otisrush.net.

April 30

Muddy Waters, blues legend from Rolling Fork, MS, dies in 1983. Born in Issaquena County, Mississippi on April 4, 1915, he is largely credited with inspiring the British blues explosion in the 1960s. The Rolling Stones named themselves after his 1950 song “Rollin Stone”, a song that Jimi Hendrix also covered. More info @muddywaters.com.

The Louisiana Purchase is concluded in 1803, and America expands west of the Mississippi. The US paid the French a total sum of $15 million for the Louisiana Territory, a purchase that President Thomas Jefferson saw as vital in order to secure America’s trade access via the port of New Orleans. It doubled the size of the United States and opened the continent to westward expansion. More info @wikipedia.org.

 

May

May 1

Charley Patton, the “Father of the Delta Blues,” is born in 1891. Having lived most of his life in Sunflower County, MS, his family moved in 1900 to the legendary Dockery Plantation where both John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf were inspired by him. He is known for his harsh, loud voice with which he sang about African American life in the south. Patton’s race remains a subject of debate, and it’s suspected he was a mix of black, white, and Cherokee. His song, “Pony Blues,” was included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2006.  More information available @nps.gov.

T.R.M. Howard, African American civil rights activist and surgeon, dies in 1976. He was one of the mentors to activists such as Medgar Evers, Charles Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, and Jesse Jackson, founded Mississippi’s leading civil rights organization in the 1950s, the Regional Council of Negro leadership, and played a prominent role in the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of Emmet Till. He was also president of the National Medical Association and chairman of the board of the National Negro Business League. More information available @trmhoward.com.

Glen Ballard, producer and songwriter, is born in Natchez, MS in 1953. Best known as the producer of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, is born in Natchez in 1953. The album won the Grammy Award for “Best Rock Album” and “Album of the Year” amongst others. Before founding Java Records, he was involved in the recording and writing of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Bad. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

May 2

Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee are murdered by the Klan in 1964 based on evidence of the FBI. Because they suspected the two of civil rights activism, the Ku Klux Klan kidnapped and murdered the two. Their bodies were found in the Mississippi River on July 12. James Ford Sealing and nine other Klansmen were put on trial in 1966, and despite many accusations by FBI investigators, they were released. However, the case was reopened in 2005 by one of the victims’ brothers, and Seale was later sentenced to three life terms in 2007. More information available @crime.about.com.

May 4

Tyrone Davis, an American soul singer with a long list of hit records over a period of more than 30 years, is born in 1938. He was known as the “Chicago King of the Romantic Soul.” More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

May 5

Hazel Smith, the owner and editor of four weekly newspapers in Lexington, MS, wins a Pulitzer Prize for her editorial writing in 1964, becoming the first woman to do so. Focusing on unpopular causes, political corruption, and social injustice in Mississippi, her opposition to the White Citizens’ Council brought her the prize for her “steadfast adherence to her editorial duty in the face of great pressure and opposition.” More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

May 7

NAACP leader Rev. George Wesley Lee is assassinated in Belzoni, MS in 1955. He was a vice president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and head of the Belzoni branch of the NAACP. As the pastor of four churches and the owner of a grocery store, he quickly became a community leader and pushed for blacks’ voting rights. No charges were ever brought against his assailants, but the open-coffin ceremony that was held exposed the national audience to the oppressive nature of Mississippi Jim Crow. More information available @beejae.com.

The Great Natchez Tornado hits Natchez, MS in 1840. It was the second deadliest single tornado in United States history, killing 317 people. Most of the deal toll was from individuals who sank in flatboats on the river. More info @underthehillsaloon.com.

Hodding Carter Jr. of the Delta Democrat Times wins the Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for editorials on racial, religious, and economic intolerance. Born in Hammond, LA in 1907, he was a prominent southern progressive journalist and author whose articles dealing with racism in the South won him the Pulitzer for Editorial Writing. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

May 8

Dean Acheson announces the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the International Monetary Fund, and the creation of the World Bank in Whitfield Gym on the DSU campus in 1947. Under the Secretary of State during Truman’s administration, Acheson was essentially unveiling the outline of the Marshall Plan, a program that sent monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II in order to combat the spread of communism. More information available @archives.gov.

Hernando de Soto, Spanish explorer, reaches the Mississippi River with his conquistadors in 1541, possibly at Sunflower Landing west of Clarksdale. Understanding the river as an obstacle, he did not cross it until one month later at or near Memphis and continued his travel westwards through modern-day AR, OK, and TX. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Robert Johnson, the “King of the Delta Blues,” is born in Hazlehurst, MS in 1911. During his career, he wrote 29 songs, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org.

May 9

Kermit the frog makes his first debut in Leland, MS in 1955 on the five-minute puppet show WRC-TV’s Sam and Friends. From humble beginnings “as a tadpole in the swamp with 3,625 brothers and sisters,” Kermit has since risen to great fame through his courage in being the first of his siblings to depart the family swamp and through his diligence in becoming one of the first frogs to talk to humans. Since finding his break in 1955, he has played a central role in all of the Muppet movies and in The Muppet Show television series. Furthermore, he has been awarded an honorary doctorate of Amphibious Letters at Southampton College in New York, where he also gave a commencement speech in 1996. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and, on his 50th birthday, the US Postal Service released a set of new stamps featuring him and some of his fellow Muppets. More information available @wikipedia.org.

May 10

Walker Percy, cousin of William Alexander Percy and Greenville writer, dies in 1990. Born in 1916 in Birmingham, AL, he was raised by Perry after both of his parents and his grandfather committed suicide, setting a pattern of emotional struggle that would haunt Percy throughout his life. After receiving his medical degree from Columbia in 1941, he contracted TB and spent several years confined to a bed. Influenced by the existentialist writers he read, he took to writing, and, in 1962, he won the National Fiction Award for The Moviegoer.  He died in 1990 of prostate cancer.  More info available @ibiblio.org.

Treasure Bay Casino opens in Tunica, MS in 1994. At one time, eleven different casinos operated in the community; currently, Treasure Bay Casino is now closed, and the Isle of Capri (originally the first of three Harrah’s locations in the area) was bought by neighboring Sam’s Town and used only for its hotel tower and parking garage. More information available @wikipedia.org.

May 11

National Guardsmen open fire at Jackson State University during a protest in 1967, killing Benjamin Brown, a civil rights worker. His death prompted criticism from civil rights leaders and set off a series of protests and demonstrations in the Jackson area. More information available @crdl.usg.edu.

May 14

Greenville author William Alexander Percy is born in 1885. William Alexander Percy, lawyer, poet, and planter, is born in 1885 in Greenville, MS.  He served as a captain in World War I and was in charge of the relief efforts in Greenville during the flood of 1927.  His autobiography, Lanterns on the Levee, became a bestseller. More information available @pbs.org.

The Mule Train departs Marks, MS for Washington, DC in 1968 protesting poverty in the US. The Mule Train was part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign, which brought thousands of African Americans to DC to petition the government for what Martin Luther King called an “economic bill of rights.” More information available @bampfa.berkeley.edu.

Robert Owen is born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales in 1771. As a founder of socialism and the cooperative movement, his philosophy played a large role in shaping the values upon which Mound Bayou was founded. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.

The Memphis newspaper, Commercial Appeal, wins a Pulitzer Prize for public in 1923 because of its campaign against the Ku Klux Klan. More info available @wikipedia.org.

May 16

Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, dies in 1990. Born in Greenville, MS in 1936, he performed in various television programs such as The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. He was nominated for an Oscar and won three Emmy Awards for his television production, Sesame Street.  He founded the Jim Henson Company, the Henson Foundation, and the Jim Henson Creature Shop.  On May 16, 1990, he died from organ failure caused by a bacterial infection.  More information available @jimhensonlegacy.com.

The Association of Citizens’ Councils of Mississippi formally opposes the integration of Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in 1957.

May 17

J.F.H. Claiborne, called the “father of Mississippi history,” dies in 1884. A planter, politician, and popular journalist, he wrote in the style of the Southwestern Humorists, but his most notable achievement stems from his interest in his native state’s history. This passion led him to amass an important collection of historical papers, documents, and memorabilia upon which he largely based the first significant historical account of Mississippi. More information available @olemiss.edu.

Delta State President Broom dies, and Governor Whitfield appoints Dean Zeigal as acting President in 1926 until the selection of William Marion Kethley in July. During Kethley’s term, the Delta Council was established, and the college became members of the American Association of Teachers’ Colleges and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.More information available @deltastate.edu.

The Supreme Court rules that segregated schools are inherently unequal and unconstitutional in 1954. This decision, known as Brown v. Board of Education, overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896. The unanimous decision from the Court paved the way for integration and the Civil Rights movement. More information available @watson.org.

May 18

William Alexander Percy, lawyer, poet, and planter, is born in 1885 in Greenville, MS.  He served as a captain in World War I and was in charge of the relief efforts in Greenville during the flood of 1927.  His autobiography, Lanterns on the Levee, became a bestseller. More information available @pbs.org.

George Washington Carver, born an American slave and later a member of the Royal Society of Great Britain and an internationally respected scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor, presents a public lecture on Delta State’s campus in 1932. The Bolivar Commercial describes the speech as “one of the most enlightening lectures ever given in the Broom Memorial Auditorium.” More information available @nps.gov.

Big Joe Turner, a blues artist from Kansas City, MO, is born in 1911. Although he came to his greatest fame in the 1950s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, Turner’s career as a performer stretched from the 1920s into the 1980s. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

May 19

Aaron Henry, famed civil rights leader and Clarksdale author, dies in 1997. Born in 1922 in MS, he joined the NAACP in 1954, becoming president in 1959.  He was very successful in uniting blacks throughout Mississippi.  He was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which tried to seat their delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. He was elected to the MS House of Representatives in 1982 and held the seat until 1996. More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

Football great Archie Manning is born in Drew, MS in 1949.  As quarterback, he played for the New Orleans Saints from 1971 to 1982, then for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings. He is the father of Peyton and Eli Manning, both starting quarterbacks in the NFL, in addition to former Ole Miss receiver Cooper Manning. More information available @wikipedia.org.

May 20

Bluesman Willie Foster, born in Leland, MS, dies in 2001. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

USS Mississippi becomes the first and only first class battleship to visit an inland city when it navigates up the Mississippi River to Natchez, MS in 1909.

May 21

Hernando de Soto, Spanish explorer, dies of fever in the village of Guachoya, near McArthur, AR in 1542. His body is buried in the Mississippi River. On his expedition through the territory of what is now the southeastern United States, he became the first European to cross the Mississippi River. More information available @wikipedia.org.

One of Mound Bayou’s founders, Isaiah T. Montgomery, is born as a slave near Vicksburg in 1847. Receiving an excellent education at the plantation he grew up on, he developed a dream to build the “largest Negro town,” and in 1887, he and his cousin Benjamin T. Green founded Mound Bayou.  In 1890, he was the only African American delegate to be appointed to the Mississippi Constitutional Convention.  In 1892, he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to be the receiver of public money for the United States Land Office.  More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

May 24

Elmore James, the “King of the Slide Guitar,” dies in 1963. He began making music at the age of 12 using a simple one-string instrument strung up on a shack wall. During World War II, he served in the Navy and, upon his return, began playing the blues around Mississippi. He later moved to Chicago and formed the band, the Broomdusters, a group in which he was noted for his stirring voice and use of loud amplification.  More information available @nps.gov.

The first bus load of Freedom Riders arrives in Jackson, MS, attempting to integrate the interstate transportation network. They are arrested and taken to Parchman in 1961. Accused of trespassing, they were sentenced to 60 days in the state penitentiary but would have their convictions later overturned with NAACP support. More information available @mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu.

May 25

John Crews, author of poetry and plays set in the South, is born in Monroe, Michigan in 1926 but grew up in Vicksburg from the age of six months. Six of his poems have been published, and he has written four plays, one of which won second place in the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center’s contest for Southern playwrights. More information available @olemiss.edu.

Vernon Presley, father of Elvis, is sentenced to three years imprisonment at Parchman Penitentiary for forgery in 1937. For the next 30 months, Elvis visited his father at Parchman every weekend. More information available @members.tripod.com.

A fire sweeps through Yazoo City in 1904, destroying most of the town. According to local folklore and Willie Morris’s Good Old Boy, the “Witch of Yazoo,” claimed she would break out her grave and burn the town on this date, the day of her death in 1884. More information available @cityofyazoocity.org.

May 27

MS Musician Hall of Fame Inductee Junior Parker is born in Clarksdale in 1932. Singing as a child in gospel groups, he joined the Beale Streeters as a harmonica player in the later 1940s. In 1951, he started his own band called the Blue Flames. He is best remembered for his unique voice, which has been described as “honeyed” and “velvet-smooth.” He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. More information available @wikipedia.org.

May 28

Walker Percy, cousin of William Alexander Percy and well known writer, is born in Birmingham, AL in 1916. He was raised by Perry after both of his parents and his grandfather committed suicide, setting a pattern of emotional struggle that would haunt Percy throughout his life. After receiving his medical degree from Columbia in 1941, he contracted TB and spent several years confined to a bed. Influenced by the existentialist writers he read, he took to writing, and in 1962, he won the National Fiction Award for The Moviegoer.  He died in 1990 of prostate cancer.  More info available @ibiblio.org

May 29

Harold “Hardface” Clanton is born in 1916. Called “Tunica’s First Black Millionaire,” he ran a flourishing operation that offered games of chance, bootleg liquor, and the best in blues music. His efforts helped pave the way for Tunica County to legalize casino gambling in 1991. More information available @msbluestrail.org.

May 30

The Board of Police of Bolivar County meets for the first time in 1836. More information available @co.bolivar.ms.us.

May 31

The Supreme Court orders schools to be integrated “with all deliberate speed” in 1955. Despite the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 that required all schools to desegregate, many Southern schools continued to refuse. The aforementioned phrase in this second decision was construed as extremely ambiguous, however, providing the South with an indefinite amount of time to desegregate. By 1964, it was declared by the Justices that “the time for mere deliberate speed” had out. More info available @blogs.dickinson.edu.

 

June

 

June 1

Morgan Freeman is born in Memphis, TN in 1937. An actor, film director, and narrator from Memphis, TN, he is known for his reserved demeanor and authoritative speaking voice. He has received Academy Award nominations for his performances in Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, and Invictus and won in 2005 for Million Dollar Baby. He lived in Charleston and Greenwood, MS for part of his childhood and currently owns a home in Charleston in addition to Ground Zero, a blues club in Clarksdale, MS. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Robert Johnson, known as the “King of the Delta Blues,” has his second and final recording session in the Brunswick Recording Building in 1937. Born in Hazlehurst, MS on May 8, 1911, he was always interested in music as a child, playing the harp, harmonica, and guitar.  During his career, he wrote 29 songs, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org.

June 2

Othar (Otha) Turner, famous fife player, is born in Rankin County in 1908. Born in Gravel Springs, MS, he began playing the fife at the age of 16, making the instrument from sugarcane. His band, The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, propelled him to become the recipient of such awards as the National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award and the Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

WROX in Clarksdale goes on the air in 1944. Announcer Early Wright joined WROX in 1947 as the first black DJ in Mississippi and continued on air for the next 52 years. More information available @wroxradio.com.

June 3

Greenwood Leflore, Choctaw leader, cotton farmer, and Mississippi representative and senator, is born in 1800. Chief of the Choctaw tribe before the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, he had many connections in the state and local governments and used them to help secure the largest amount of Indian territory land for any removed tribe. Greenwood and Leflore County in Mississippi are named after him. More information available @aboutgreenwoodms.com.

Memphis Minnie is born in Algiers, LA in 1897. A blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, she was the only female blues artist considered a match to male contemporaries as both a singer and an instrumentalist. She was one of the first musicians to use the electric guitar to create her style of country blues and was honored for her talent and contributions when she was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1980. Her song, “When the Levee Breaks,” was later covered by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan. More information available @nps.gov.

Barry Lyons, DSU baseball alumni and New York Mets player, is born in Biloxi, MS in 1960. A right-handed hitting catcher, he spent most of his career as the backup catcher to Baseball Hall of Famer Gary Carter. More information available @wikipedia.org.

June 4

Mississippi Valley State University is founded in 1950. A historically black university located in Itta Bena, MS, MSVU was designed from fear after Brown v. Board of Education that African Americans might begin applying to Mississippi’s premier white-only institutions. More information available @mvsu.edu.

June 5

Conway Twitty, a famed country music artist born in Friars Point, MS, dies in 1993. Born Harold Jenkins in 1933, he received an offer to play for the Philadelphia Phillies once he left high school, but he was drafted into the US Army. Upon returning and hearing Elvis Presley, he headed to Sun Studios in Memphis, TN and worked with Sam Phillips to get the “right sound.” It was not until the 1970s when he took to country music that success came, and he received a string of CMA awards for duets with Loretta Lynn during those years. He was inducted into both the Country Music and the Rockabilly Halls of Fame. More information available @cmt.com.

June 6

James Meredith, an American civil rights figure from Kosciusko, MS, is shot in a drive-by shooting while on his “March Against Fear” from Memphis to Jackson. Born in 1933, he was the first African American student to attend University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. His “March Against Fear” was his attempt to draw attention to black voting rights in the South and to help blacks overcome fear of violence. There is considerable enmity between Meredith and the organized Civil Rights Movement because of the distance he placed between himself and it. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.

Catherine Anne Warfield, a Southern writer of poetry and fiction, is born in Natchez, MS in 1816. Raised in Philadelphia, she did not return to Natchez until her adulthood. Her gothic fiction novel, The Household of Bouverie, achieved great popular success for its Shakespearean style. Other notable novels of hers include Ferne Fleming and its sequel, The Cardinal’s Daughter. More information available @olemiss.edu.

Marian Wright Edelman, born in Bennettsville, SC, becomes the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1965.  After graduating from Spellman College and Yale Law School, she worked as the director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and founded the Washington Research Project, which later became the Children’s Defense Fund.  She was also the first African American woman to serve on the board of directors for Yale University. More info available @childrensdefense.org.

June 7

Delta State Teachers College opens its doors for summer school in its first session in 1925. More information available @wikipedia.org.

The New York Times announces the word “Negro” will be spelled with a capital “N” in 1930. More information available @query.nytimes.com.

June 9

Fanny Lou Hamer and six other black Mississippians are arrested and brutally beaten by police in Winona, MS in 1962. On their way from a literacy workshop in Charleston, SC, the group was arrested on false charges and jailed. Though the incident had profound physical and psychological effects, Hamer returned to Mississippi to organize voter registration drives. This was only a year after she had been unknowingly sterilized by a doctor as part of the state of Mississippi’s plan to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state. More information available americanradioworks.publicradio.org.

Skip James, a delta blues singer and musician, is born in Bentonia, MS in 1902. His guitar playing is noted for its dark, minor sound with intricate finger-picking. He first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931 but drifted into obscurity until his rediscovery in 1964 by blues and folk music enthusiasts. His song influenced such musicians as Robert Johnson, Cream, and Kansas Joe McCoy. More information available @nps.gov.

June 10

Chester Arthur Burnett, known as Howlin’ Wolf, is born in White Station, MS in 1910. A blues guitarist, singer, and harmonica player, he is known for his booming voice and looming physical presence. He is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues, and his rough-edged, slightly fearsome musical style is often contrasted with his less edgy contemporary, Muddy Waters. He was ranked #51 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.”  More info available @howlinwolf.com.

June 11

Henry Clay Anderson, an African American photographer from Greenville, MS, is born in 1911. He established Anderson Photo Service in 1948, where he stayed in business for over thirty years. Because of the “separate but equal” ruling, his shop was designed for African Americans, capturing many aspects of his relatively prosperous black community such as weddings, funerals, sports events, and proms. More information available @stevenkasher.com.

June 12

In the case of Loving v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court declares the state’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924,” unconstitutional in 1967, thereby ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. More information available @wikipedia.org.

NAACP Field Secretary Medgar Evers is murdered outside of his home in Jackson, MS in 1963. An African American civil rights activist from Decatur, MS, he was involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. After returning from service in WWII, he became a field secretary for the NAACP and the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. He was buried on Jun 19, 1963 in Arlington National Cemetery, receiving full military honors  His murder and resulting trials inspired protests and numerous artistic pieces. More information available @wikipedia.org.

June 14

Eddie Tucker, DSU alumni born in 1966 in Greenville, MS, breaks into the major leagues in 1992. He played catcher for the Houston Astros in 1992, 1993, and 1995. He also played for the Cleveland Indians in 1995.  More information available @thebaseballpage.com.

June 16

A call is sounded at Prentiss, MS to form a military company from Bolivar County to enter the Civil War in 1861. However, the vast majority of the county’s pre-Civil War populace was made up of slaves. Bolivar County suffered numerous assaults by Union troops during the war, and the county’s first brick courthouse was burned. All of this brought a temporary end to what had been a period of tremendous material progress in Bolivar County. More information available @co.bolivar.ms.us.

June 17

Stokely Carmichael, SNCC Chairman, coins the phrase “black power” while giving a speech in Greenwood in 1966. Born in Trinidad in 1941, he moved to the US in 1952. After attending Howard University, he joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, becoming chairman in 1966. His reference to “black power” was made during James Meredith’s March Against Fear.  More info available @interchange.org.

June 18

Hernando de Soto crosses the Mississippi River in what is now Tunica County in 1541. Despite seeing the river as an obstruction to his journey through what is now the Mid-south, he was the first European to do so. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Tougaloo College is founded in 1869. The American Missionary Association of New York purchased one of the largest former plantations in central Mississippi to build Tougaloo, a college designed for recently freed slaves. A private, liberal arts institution in Madison County, MS, Tougaloo is currently ranked as one of the top 20 black colleges by U.S. New and World report. More information available @tougaloo.edu.

June 19

African Americans in Galviston, TX hear word that the Civil War has ended and that emancipation has been proclaimed. Today, Emancipation Day or “Juneteenth,” is a holiday in the United States commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery. More information available @wikipedia.org.

The Mule Train, which left Marks on May 14, arrives on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC in 1968. The Mule Train was part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign, which brought thousands of African Americans to DC to petition the government for what Martin Luther King called an “economic bill of rights.” More information available @bampfa.berkeley.edu.

June 20

Ben Peters, MS Musician Hall of Fame Inductee, is born in Greenville, MS in 1933. A native of Hollandale who picked cotton as a child, a University of Southern Mississippi graduate, and a Navy pilot, Ben Peters went on to become a Nashville songwriting legend, penning 14 number-one hits, including three of the most performed songs in the country. In 1972, he received a Grammy Award for writing “Kiss an Angel Goodbye for Charley Pride,” and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980. More information available @visitmississippi.org.

June 21

Civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner are murdered in Neshoba County, MS in 1964. Goodman and Schwerner were Jewish students from New York City. Arrested for a traffic violation while working for the Congress of Racial Equality, they were taken to a jail in Neshoba County. Upon their release and return home, Klu Klux Klan members, lead by the Baptist preacher Edgar Ray Killen, shot and killed them from two cars. On the forty-first anniversary of the crime in 2005, Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to three times 20 years in prison. More information available @wikipedia.org.

John Lee Hooker, blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, dies in 2001. Born near Clarksdale, MS in 1917, he’s seen as one of the last links to the blues of the deep South. He moved to Detroit in the early 1940s, and by 1948, he had scored his first number-one jukebox hit and million-seller, “Boogie Chillun.” He continues to contribute to a booming interest in the blues and, notably, its acceptance by the music industry as commercially viable. Hooker was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and, in 1997, he received his third and fourth Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Blues Recording and Best Pop Collaboration. More information available @johnleehooker.com

June 23

Milt Hinton, MS Musician Hall of Fame Inductee and Jazz Great, is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1910. Known as “The Judge” and the “Dean of Jazz Bass Players,” he played the double bass and was also a photographer.  During his career, he took several pictures that documented the careers of other well know jazz musicians.  More info @milthinton.com.

June 25

James Meredith, the first African American student to attend the University of Mississippi, is born in Kosciusko, MS in 1933. He was the first African American student to attend University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. His “March Against Fear” was his attempt to draw attention to black voting rights in the South and to help blacks overcome fear of violence. There is considerable enmity between Meredith and the organized Civil Rights Movement because of the distance he placed between himself and it. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.

June 26

William Lee Conley “Big Bill” Broonzy is born in Scott, MS in 1893. A combination of ragtime, country and hokum blues, his musical style made him one o the leading figures of the emerging American folk music revival in the 1950s. His autobiography, Big Bill Blues, was published in 1955, and in 1980, he was inducted into the Blues Foundation of Hall of Fame.  He died of throat and lung cancer in 1958. More info @broonzy.com.

June 27

Shelby Foote, Greenville author and Civil War historian, dies in 2005. Born in 1916, Foote’s life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South. He is best known for The Civil War: A Narrative, a three-volume history of the war, but published several other novels including: Shiloh, Tournament, and Follow me Down. He died in 2005 of a heart attack.   More information available @nytimes.com.

June 28

David “Honeyboy" Edwards, Delta blues singer and guitarist, is born in Shaw, MS in 1915. One of the last living links to Robert Johnson and one the last original acoustic Blues players, he was recorded in Clarksdale, MS in 1942 for the Library of Congress. Having published an autobiography in 1997, he still tours the world well into his 90s. His awards include induction into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1996, Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year in 2005, and Acoustic Artist of the Year at the Blues Music Awards in 2007.  More information available @davidhoneyboyedwards.com.

June 29

Jo Bailey, Delta artist, dies in 2002. Born in 1918 in Corinth, MS, she was raised in the Mississippi Delta and Oxford.  Painter of oils and watercolors, her work is seen all over the Mississippi Gulf Coast. More information available @jobaileyportraits.com.

 

July

 

July 1

Willie Dixon, a native of Vicksburg, MS, is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1915. As a teenager, he hitchhiked to Chicago and later became a producer for Chess and Checker Records. Proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar in addition to his singing abilities, he was one of the most prolific songwriters of his time and is recognized as one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound. He worked with Chuck BerryMuddy Watersand several others.  More information available @bluesheaven.com.

Lucy Somerville Howorth, “Judge Lucy,” is born in Greenville, MS in 1895. She served in the State legislature from Hinds Co. from 1932 to 1934 and was appointed to the Board of Appeals of the Veteran’s Administration by Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

James Cotton, a bluesman, is born in Tunica, MS in 1935. One of the most popular and dynamic blues harmonica players of his day, he apprenticed with Sonny Boy Williamson and spent twelve years in Muddy Water’s band in Chicago. While touring with Muddy, he continued to record single and assort album tracks on his own. He is the recipient of several Blues Music Awards, winning the 1996 Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album with Deep in the Blues. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006. More information available @msbluestrail.org.

Lloyd Bryant Clark, a native of Drew, MS, becomes the sixth head coach in the DSU Lady Statesmen’s program in 1983. Believing in defense, ball control, and smart play, he was inducted into the MS Sports Hall of Fame for his efforts. More information available @gostatesmen.com.

Dr. Lester C. Newman becomes the fifth president of Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) in 1998.  Under his leadership, student enrollment increased, and, in 1999, he began a $25 million fundraising program with the purpose of improving the campus and creating scholarships.  His is a recipient of several local awards including “Educator of the Year” from the Greenwood-Leflore Retired Teachers Association. He resigned on July 15, 2007. More information available @biography.com & @ihl.state.com.

July 2

“Mississippi” John Hurt, a country blues singer and guitarist, is born in Teoc, MS in 1893. Growing up in Avalon, MS, he learned to play the guitar when he was nine years old. Though he recorded for the first time in the 1920s and 30s, it was not until his rediscovery in the 1960s blues and folk revival that he returned to touring and recording. He died in Grenada, MS in 1966, but his songs continued to be covered after his death by Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and Beck.  More information available @msjohnhurtmuseum.com & @mindspring.com.

Aaron Henry, famed civil rights leader, pharmacist, and Delta author, is born in Dublin, MS in 1922 to sharecroppers. After attending Xavier University, he joined the NAACP in 1954, becoming the president of the Mississippi branch five years later. He founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which tried to seat their delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, and held a seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1982 to 1996.  More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

Medgar Ever, Civil Rights leader, NAACP organizer, citizen of Mound Bayou, and martyr, is born in Decatur, MS in 1925. He was involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi. After returning from service in WWII, he became a field secretary for the NAACP and the president of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. He was buried on June 19, 1963 in Arlington National Cemetery, receiving full military honors.  His murder and resulting trials inspired protests and numerous artistic pieces @africawithin.com and npr.org.

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace, and by facilities that served the general public. More information available @archives.gov.

July 3

“Mississippi” Fred McDowell, blues artist, dies and is buried between Como and Senatobia in 1972. Born in Rossville, TN in 1904, he was a blues singer in the North Mississippi style. While similar to the Delta Blues, his north hill country blues style is understood as closer in structure to its African roots. More information available @msbluestrail.org.

Confederate troops surrender at Vicksburg, MS at 10:00 a.m. in 1863. When Port Hurdson surrendered to Major General Banks on July 9, the entire Mississippi River belonged to the Union. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign is considered one of the masterpieces of American military history, and these events are considered the turning point of the war. More information available @americancivilwar.com.

July 4

Jo Bailey, a Delta oil painter, is born in 1918 in Corinth, MS. Raised in the Mississippi Delta and Oxford, she paints with watercolors and oils and her work is displayed all over the country.  More information available @jobaileyportraits.com.

 

Delta State baseball player Eli Whiteside joins the Baltimore Orioles as a catcher in 2005. He currently plays for the San Francisco Giants and is known for his completely gray hair despite his young age. More information available @baseball-almanac.com.

July 5

July 6

William Faulkner, poet and novelist, dies of a heart attack in 1962. Born in Oxford, MS, Faulkner was heavily influenced by his home state as well as by the history and culture of the entire American South. He is considered one of the most important writers of Southern literature. Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of his works, A Fable and The Reivers, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He died on July 6, 1962. More information available @olemiss.edu & @nobelprize.org.

July 7

Margaret Walker Alexander, African American poet and writer, is born in Birmingham, AL in 1915. After receiving her doctorate from the University of Iowa, she began work with the Federal Writers’ Project under the Roosevelt’s WPA in 1936. While teaching at Jackson State University from 1947 to 1979, she wrote the critically acclaimed novel, Jubilee. She is also well known for poem, For My People. She died of breast cancer in Chicago in 1998. More info available @olemiss.edu & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Pinetop Perkins, a legendary bluesman, is born in Belzoni, MS in 1913. Specializing in piano music, he played with such greats as Earl Jooker, Muddy Waters, and Jimmy Rogers. He received numerous honors during his lifetime including a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2008 (at the age of 95), a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and induction into the Blues Hall of Fame. He lived in Austin, TX until his death in March of 2011; at the time, he had more than twenty performances booked for the upcoming year. He was one of the last two original Mississippi Delta blues musicians, the other being David “Honeyboy” Edwards. More information available @pinetopperkins.com.

William Hodding Carter II draws an outline for his new paper, and, with help from Greenville author William Alexander Percy, the Delta Star is created in 1936. A writer associated with Greenville, MS, he was born in Hammond, LA in 1907.  After completing college and graduate school, he worked as a reporter for the New Orleans Item-Tribune (1929), the United Press in New Orleans (1930), and the Associated Press in Jackson, MS (1931-32).  In 1932, he founded the Hammond Daily Courier, and, in 1939, he moved to Greenville, MS to start the Greenville Delta Democrat Times.  In 1946, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials that lambasted the ill-treatment of Japanese-American soldiers returning from WWII. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

July 8

Lloyd Bryant Clark, coach of the Lady Statesmen and inductee of the MS Sports Hall of Fame, is born in Memphis, TN in 1940. More information available @gostatesmen.com.

July 10

Ben Chester White is killed in Natchez, MS by the Klan in an effort to lure Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the area to assassinate him.  White was not a civil rights workers or even registered to vote but was lured into the woods under the pretense of a lost dog and shot seventeen times. Ernest Avants, one of the three men charged, escaped charges in 1966 but was found guilty in 2003 of the crime and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 2004. More information available @natchezdemocrat.com & nytimes.com.

Sarah Mary Taylor, nationally acclaimed folk artist known for her vibrant appliqué quilts, dies in 2000. Born in 1916 in Anding, MS, she continues to exhibit her work in museums and galleries across the country. One of her most famous quilt designs was used in the movie, The Color Purple.  More information available @yazoo.org.

July 11

The White Citizens’ Council is founded in Indianola, MS in 1954 by Robert “Tut” Paterson. An American white supremacist group with 60,000 members in the South at one time, the group was well known for its opposition to racial integration. By the 1970s, the influence of the WCC had waned considerably, and the modern successor to it is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1988. Mississippi is the only state that has major politicians who are open CofCC members, including State Senators and State Representatives. More information available @usm.edu & @wikipedia.org.

City Hospital of Cleveland opens its door in 1938. More info available @google.com.

July 12

Beah Richards, actress, poet, and playwright, is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1920. Her career started to take off in 1955 when she portrayed an eighty-four-year-old grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step. She was nominated for a Tony award for her 1965 performance in The Amen Corner and for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1967 film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. She made numerous television appearances and won two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 and another in 2000. She died from emphysema in her hometown at the age of 80. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Mound Bayou is founded by Isaiah T. Montgomery and his cousin, both former slaves, in 1887. Founded as an independent black community with a socialist cooperative philosophy, Mound Bayou was originally known as Davis Bend and was owned by the brother of Jefferson Davis until he sold it to his former slave, Isaiah Montgomery’s father. More information available @wikipedia.org.

July 13

Edward Riley Boyd, a musician from Clarksdale, MS, dies in Melilahti Hospital in Helsinki, Finland in 1994. Born in 1914, he initially made a living by playing in juke joints around Mississippi but later moved to Memphis in 1936 where he played with his band, Dixie Rhythm Boys.  In 1941, he moved to Chicago and worked with Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson but didn’t achieve commercial acclaim until 1952 when he released three hit songs.  During the “Blues Boom” of the 1960s, he moved to Europe and, in 1970, settled in Finland, marrying there in 1980. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

July 14

Riley Smith, Washington Redskin and MS Sports Hall of Fame inductee, is born in Greenwood, MS in 1911. He joined the Washington Redskins during the very first pro draft in 1936; however, an injury ended his playing career, and he became a assistant and head coach at Washington and Lee. He raised $1.65 million for the University of Alabama, his alma mater, setting a record for funds raised for the American Heart Association. More information available @collegefootball.org.

Actress Carie Nye, wife of Dick Cavett and native of Greenwood, MS, dies in 2006. She made her debut on Broadway in 1960 in the play A Second String. She was nominated for a Tony Award in 1965 and for an Emmy Award in 1980. She was married to Dick Cavett until her death in 2006 from lung cancer. More info available @nytimes.com.

July 15

William Marion Kethley is appointed the second president of Delta State University in 1926, becoming the youngest college president of his time.  During his presidency, the Delta Council was established, and the college became members of the American Association of Teachers Colleges and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  He also beautified the scenery of the campus by planting oak and dogwood trees.  More information available @deltastate.edu.

Big John Wrencher, a blues harmonica player and singer well known for playing on Maxwell Street Market in Chicago, dies in Clarksdale, MS in 1977. Born in Sunflower, MS in 1923, he arrived in Chicago in the 1940s and played with such artists as Jimmy Rogers, Blue Smitty, and John Henry Barbee. Wrencher toured Europe in the early 1970s but died suddenly of a heart attack during a trip back home to visit his family. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Martin Luther King Jr., a Civil Rights leader, preacher, and orator, is born in 1929 in Atlanta, GA. Dr. King became an iconic figure in the African American Civil Rights Movement, and his work led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the March on Washington in 1963. At the march, he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, expanding American values to include the vision of a color blind society. In 1964, he received a Noble Peace Prize for his non-violent endeavors to end racial discrimination.  After his assassination in 1968, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and a Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.  More information available @martinlutherking.org.

Dr. Roy C. Hudson is named interim president of Mississippi Valley State University in 2007. More information available @ihl.state.ms.us.

July 16

Ida B. Wells, an African American Civil Rights advocate and women’s rights activist who documented hundreds of lynchings, is born in Holly Springs, MS in 1862. , she quit high school to take care of her brothers and sisters after her parents died of yellow fever. She was a strong supporter of women’s rights and helped lead a campaign against segregation on trains after she herself was thrown off for not giving up her seat. More information available @duke.edu.

Dorothy Shawhan, Delta author and college professor, is born in Tupelo, MS in 1942. She is the author of Lizzie, On The Way Home, Lucy Somerville Howorth, New Deal Lawyer, Politician, and Feminist from the South.  She currently resides in Cleveland, MS, where she is an English and Journalism professor at Delta State University. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com

Denise LaSalle, an R&B/soul singer, songwriter, and record producer, is born outside of Belzoni, MS in 1936. is also a producer and songwriter. Singing and writing throughout the 1960s, she achieved her first major success in 1971 with “Trapped By A Thing Called Love,” which reached #1 on the national R&B chart. She continued to make the R&B Top Ten through the 1970s and released several critically acclaimed albums in the 1980s and 90s. In 2011, she was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame. More information available @msbluestrail.org & wikipedia.org.

Evelyn Preer, African American stage and screen actress and accomplished blues singer, is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1896. Known within the black community as “the First Lady of the Screen,” she was the first black actress to receive notoriety and popularity with both blacks and whites because of the fact that she would not accept roles that belittled African Americans.  In 1920, she joined the Lafayette Players, a theatrical stock company, later gaining more recognition for David Belasco’s production of Lulu Belle in 1926 and Somerset Maugham’s Rain in 1928.  More info available @aaregistry.org.

July 17

Sam Myers, Chicago blues musician and songwriter, dies in Dallas, TX in 2006 while recovering from surgery at home. Born in Laurel, MS in 1936, he is best known as an accompanist on dozens of recordings for blues artists over the past five decades and as the vocalist for Anderson Funderburgh & The Rockets. Myers was in high demand not only for his drumming ability and vocals but also for his authentic delta blues sound. More information available @sammyers.com.

Blues artist Roosevelt Sykes, also known as the “Honeydripper” dies in New Orleans, LA in 1983. Born in Elmar, AR in 1906, he is known for his pounding piano boogies and risqué lyrics, his contributions to the blues. He was responsible for such influential blues songs as “44 Blues,” “Driving Wheel,” and “Night Time Is the Right Time.” He was later inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1999. More info @allaboutjazz.com.

July 18

Elvis Presley drops by the Memphis Recording Service, home of Sun Records, to privately record two song, “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” Elvis was one of the first artists to perform rockabilly, a combination of blues and country music.  He also performed such other genres as gospel and pop and made thirty-three movies.  He is the only artist to have been inducted into three halls of fame: the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.  More information available @elvis.com

July 19

Elizabeth Spencer, Delta author, is born in Carrollton, MS in 1921. Spencer's first novel, Fire in the Morning, was published in 1948. She has written a total of nine novels, seven collections of short stories, a memoir (Landscapes of the Heart, 1998), and a play (For Lease or Sale, 1989). Her novella, The Light in the Piazza, (1960) was adapted for the screen in 1962 and transformed into a Broadway musical of the same name in 2005. She is a five-time recipient of the O. Henry Award for short fiction. Until her retirement, she taught creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. More information available @elizabethspencerwriter.com.

Walter Turnbull, African American musician and writer, is born in Greenville, MS in 1944. A graduate of Tougaloo College, he moved to New York City in 1968 to continue studying music while performing as a tenor with the New York Philharmonic. He also began teaching music at a Harlem church where he started a popular city choir that eventually became the internationally renowned Boys Choir of Harlem. Turnbull is a recipient of several awards including the International Citation of Merit Award, Intrepid Freedom Award, Chase Manhattan Humanitarian Recognition Award, and Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Award.  More information available @nytimes.com and @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Sun Records releases That’s All Right and Blue Moon of Kentucky by Elvis Presley in 1954. Elvis was one of the first artists to perform rockabilly, a combination of blues and country music.  He also performed such other genres as gospel and pop and made thirty-three movies.  He is the only artist to have been inducted into three halls of fame: the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. More information available @wikipedia.org.

July 20

Kiwanis Club in Greenville, MS is created in 1920. The organization continues to serve the community today by revitalizing neighborhoods, organizing youth sports programs, tutoring, building playgrounds, and performing other community-oriented projects. More information available @greenwoodkiwanisclub.org.

Alan Lomax, American folklorist and ethnomusicologist, dies in 2002. Born in January of 1915, he was the first record Muddy Waters and Mississippi Fred McDowell among other blues musicians. Primarily a collector of folk music of the 20th century, he also produced television and radio shows and wrote books.  He received the National Medal of Arts from President Reagan in 1986, a Library of Congress Living Legend Award in 2000, in addition to a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award in 1993 for his book, The Land Where The Blues Began. More information available @loc.gov & @culturalequity.org.

July 22

Bobbie Gentry, former country singer-songwriter, is born Roberta Lee Streeter in Chickasaw County, MS in 1944. She is notable as one of the first female country artists to write and produce her own material,and her songs typically drew on her Mississippi roots. She rose to international fame with the Southern Gothic narrative, “Ode to Billie Joe” in 1967. She charted eleven more singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1968. More information available @wikipedia.org.

July 23

Percy Strother, bluesman from Vicksburg, MS, is born in 1946. Inspired by the likes of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Howlin’ Wolf, Percy is known for his unique mixture of blues, R&B, and soul. He began recording during the 1960s but did not receive wide acclaim until the release of “A Good Woman Is Hard To Find,” which was selected as Best Blues Song of 1992 in the Living Blues magazine Readers’ Award category. More information available @blogs.citypages.com.

Eudora Welty, author from Jackson, MS, dies in 2001. She was best known for her short stories and novels regarding the American South. Her book, The Optimist’s Daughter, won the Pulitzer prize in 1973. Welty was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom among many tohers. Her house in Jackson is a National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as a museum. More information available @eudorawelty.org & olemiss.edu.

July 25

Emmett Till, an African American boy who was murdered at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman, is born in Chicago in 1941. While visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta, he spoke to Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant's husband and his half-brother arrived at Till's great-uncle's house where they kidnapped Till, beat him, and gouged out one of his eyes before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River. His body was discovered and returned to Chicago where Till’s mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. Despite the widespread media coverage and scrutiny the subsequent trials received, the two men were acquitted by a jury of twelve white men. Till’s murder is noted as one the crucial events that motivated the African American Civil Rights Movement. More information available @emmetttillmurder.com, pbs.org, & wikipedia.org.

July 26

US President Harry Truman signs executive orders in 1948 that require the racial integration of the American armed forces and bans discrimination in federal employment. More information available @digitalhistory.uh.edu.

Novelist William Faulkner starts a five-month screenwriting stint with Warner Brothers in 1942. Born in Oxford, MS, Faulkner was heavily influenced by his home state as well as by the history and culture of the entire American South. He is considered one of the most important writers of Southern literature. Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of his works, A Fable and The Reivers, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He died on July 6, 1962.  More information available @olemiss.edu.

July 27

Reverend C.L. Franklin, father of Aretha Franklin and noted Baptist preacher, dies in 1985 in Detroit after being shot during a robbery in his home five years earlier. In addition to his ministry, he became involved in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, working to end discriminatory practices against black United Auto Workers members in Detroit. More information available @wikipedia.org.

July 28

The 14th Amendment is adopted in 1868, granting African Americans citizenship but only some of its privileges. Its Equal Protection Clause was the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision which precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation in the United States. More information available @14thamendment.us.

July 30

Big Jack Johnson, an electric blues musician of the Jelly Roll Kings, is born in Lambert, MS in 1940. His break came when he sat in with Frank Frost and Sam Carr at the Savoy Theater in Clarksdale, MS; this trio recorded together for the 15 years. Johnson died from undisclosed illness in March of 2011. More information available @bigjackjohnson.com.

Sam Phillips, record producer and owner of Sun Records, dies in 2003. Playing an important role in the emergence of rock and roll as the major form of popular music in the 1950s, he discovered and brought to fame such artists as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Howlin’ Wolf. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll, Blues, and Country Music Halls of Fame. He also received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in 2001. He died in 2003 one day before the original Sun Studio was designated a National Historic landmark. More information available @sunrecords.com, npr.org, & wikipedia.org.

 

 

August

 

August 1

William Clark, the American explorer of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, is born in Caroline County, VA in 1770.  The expedition he lead with Meriwether Lewis across had the purpose of exploring the Louisiana Territory, establishing trade and sovereignty, and finding a water way from the 13 colonies to the pacific in order to claim the Oregon territory for the United States before European nations. Clark concentrated primarily on drawing maps, managing supplies, and hunting. More information available @pbs.org & @nationalgeographic.com.

Holt Collier, an African American black bear hunter and sportsman, dies in Greenville, MS in 1936. Born in 1846 as a slave in Mississippi, he served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. After working as a cowboy after the war, he returned to Mississippi to become a reputed bear hunter, later serving as President Theodore Roosevelt’s tracker during the President’s famous Mississippi bear hunt of 1902. The President received his nickname when he refused to shoot a wounded bear that Collier had rounded up for him. He died at the age of 90 in 1936. The Holt Collier National Refuge in Mississippi is named in his honor.  More info available @mississippiscv.org & @library.fws.gov.

The tracks of the Peavine Railroad, running from Dockery to Rosedale, are take up and all service is discontinued in 1942. More information available @peavinerailroad.com.

August 2

Garland Perry “Hank” Cochran, country music singer and songwriter, is born in Isola, MS in 1935. In addition to writing major successes for Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Eddy Arnold, and others, he recorded seven hits between 1962 and 1980 that made it on the Billboard country music charts with his greatest solo being the #20 “Sally Was A Good Old Girl.” More information available @nytimes.com.

Willie Morris, an author from Yazoo City, MS dies in 1999. Born in 1934, he immortalized Yazoo City in his prose utilizing a unique lyrical style and reflections on the American South, particularly the Mississippi Delta. In 1967, he became the youngest editor of Harper’s Magazine, and in 1980, he returned to his home state to become a writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi. In 2000, his book My Dog Skip was made into a movie starring Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, and Luke Wilson. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City, exactly 13 steps from the “grave” of the fictitious Witch of Yazoo, a character from one of Morris’s books. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 4

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner whose disappearance on June 21 garnered national attention are found buried in an earthen damn near Philadelphia, MS in 1964. Goodman and Schwerner were Jewish students from New York City, and Chaney was a black activist in Mississippi. Arrested for a traffic violation while working for the Congress of Racial Equality, they were taken to a jail in Neshoba County. Upon their release and return home, Klu Klux Klan members, lead by the Baptist preacher Edgar Ray Killen, shot and killed them from two cars. On the forty-first anniversary of the crime in 2005, Killen was found guilty of three counts of manslaughter and sentenced to three times 20 years in prison. More information available @wikipedia.org.

“Little” Milton Campbell, an American blues and soul singer and guitarist best known for his records “Grits Ain’t Groceries and “We’re Gonna Make It” dies in 2005. Born in Inverness, MS in 1934, he was a recipient of the W. C. Handy Award and also an inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame.  He is responsible for making the national anthem of blues, “The Blues is Alright,” recognized around the world.  More information available @littlemilton.com & @wikipedia.org.

August 5

Henry Clay Lewis, a medical doctor and short story writer who lived for some time in Yazoo City, MS, dies in 1850. He is known for writing humorous sketches in the Southwestern humorist style that were published in The Spirit of the Times.  More information available @olemiss.edu.

The Post Office called Sims is officially renamed “Cleveland, MS” in 1887.

August 6

Willie Brown, a Delta blues guitarist and singer from Clarksdale, MS, is born in 1900. He accompanied such musicians as Charley Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson.  More information available @wikipedia.org.

Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act in 1965, guaranteeing African Americans the right to vote. A landmark piece of national legislation, it outlawed discriminatory voting practices such as poll taxes and literacy tests that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the US. More information available @ourdocuments.gov & congresslink.org.

The C.S.S. Arkansas, the most feared Confederate ironclad on the Mississippi River, is blown up in 1862 by her crew after suffering problems during a battle with the U.S.S. Essex. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Big Walter Horton, a blues harmonica player, is born in Horn Lake, MS in 1917. His earliest recordings were in the late 1920s with the Memphis Jug Band, but his first notable recordings were for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in the early 1950s. Playing with Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, and Fleetwood Mac at different points in his life, he died from heart failure in 1981 at the age of 64. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1982. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

Memphis Minnie, the “First Lady of Chicago Blues,” dies in Memphis in 1973. Born in Algiers, LA in 1897, she was a blues guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter and was the only female blues artist considered a match to male contemporaries as both a singer and an instrumentalist. She was one of the first musicians to use the electric guitar to create her style of country blues and was honored for her talent and contributions when she was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1980. Her song, “When the Levee Breaks,” was later covered by Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan. More information available @nps.gov & @wikipedia.org.

August 7

Ernestine Wade, an African American actress and radio performer, is born in Jackson, MS in 1906. Trained as a singer and organist, she grew up in Los Angeles and started acting at age four. She is best known for her role of Sapphire Stevens on the radio and television program, Amos ‘n Andy. She died in 1983 in Los Angeles after 35 years of television and radio performances. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 8

Mose Vinson, blues and jazz pianist, is born in Holly Springs, MS. His best known recordings were “Blues With A Feeling” and “Sweet Root Man.” Over his lengthy career, he worked with such musicians as Booker T. Laury and James Cotton. He died in Memphis in 2002..  More information available @wikipedia.org.

Magic Slim, blues singer and guitarist, is born in Torrence, MS in 1937. While playing in the 1950s with his older brother, Slim’s recording career didn’t begin until 1966 when he released a number of singles into the mid 1970s. He won his first W.C. Handy Award in 1980 and won his sixth “Blues Band of the Year” W.C. Handy Award in 2003. More information available @magicslimblues.com.

Jim Miles, a Washington Senators baseball player and DSU alumnus, is born in Grenada, MS in 1943. He debuted with the Senators on 1968 and concluded his career almost exactly a year later. More information available @baseball-almanac.com.

August 9

Hank Cochran, country songwriter and singer, is inducted into the MS Musician Hall of Fame in 2003. Starting during the 1960s, Cochran wrote songs for such musical artists as Patsy Cline, Ray Price, and Eddy Arnold. He was also a recording artist between 1962 and 1980, scoring seven hits on the Billboard country music charts. More information available @nytimes.com.

Riley Smith, Washington Redskin and MS Sports Hall of Fame inductee, dies in 1999. Born in Greenwood, MS in 1911, he joined the Washington Redskins during the very first pro draft in 1936; however, an injury ended his playing career, and he became an assistant and head coach at Washington and Lee. He raised $1.65 million for the University of Alabama, his alma mater, setting a record for funds raised for the American Heart Association. More information available @collegefootball.org.

Delta Democrat Times publishes a photograph of black Olympic athlete Jesse Owens, winner of four gold medals, on the front page in 1936. Born in 1913, he ran and participated in track teams throughout high school and college, despite the fact that he was not allowed to live on-campus at University of Ohio because of his race. He is the recipient of several awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University was built in his honor.  More information available @jesseowens.com & @jesseowensmuseum.org.

August 10

Isaac Hayes, famous soul singer of Stax Records, dies in 2008 from a stroke. Born in Covington, TN, Hayes served as both a songwriters and record producer at Stax Records, writing so many hits that he was later inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. His hit song, “Soul Man,” has been recognized as one of the most influential songs of the past 50 years by the Grammy Hall of Fame. He also composed musical scores for motion scores and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the theme song he wrote for the film Shaft, becoming the third African American to win an Academy Award. He died in 2008 at the age of 65 As of 2008, his songs generated more than 12 million performances. More information available @isaachayes.com.

August 11

Founder and Chair of the FedEx Corporation Fred W. Smith is born in Marks, MS. Federal Express is the first overnight express delivery company in the world and the largest in the United States. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 12

Sarah Mary Taylor, nationally acclaimed folk artist know for her vibrant appliqué quilts, is born in Anding, MS in 1916. Her work is still exhibited museums and galleries across the country. One of her most famous quilt designs was used in the movie, The Color Purple. She died in 2000 at the age of 84. More information available @yazoo.org.

Jerry Rice, former NFL wide receiver and Mississippi Valley State University player, is inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. Born in 1962 in Crawford, MS, he helped bring the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 1989, 1990 and 1995.  He also played with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks and has set 38 different NFL records, including career totals of 1,549 receptions, 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns. More information available @jerryricefootball.com.

August 13

Robert Johnson, the “King of the Delta Blues,” is poisoned outside of Greenwood, MS in 1938 and dies three days later. Born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi on May 8, 1911, he was always interested in music as a child, playing the harp, harmonica, and guitar.  During his career, he wrote 29 songs, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org.

August 14

Joe Seneca, African American actor who played the fictitious harp player Willie Brown in the movie Crossroads, dies in 1996. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Pat Thomas, son of James “Son” Thomas, is born in Yazoo City in 1960. More information @realdeepblues.blogspot.com.

August 15

Jackie Brentson, an R&B singer and saxophonist who played with Ike Turner, is born in Clarkdale, MS in 1930. He co-wrote the first rock n’ roll song, “Rocket 88,” on which he also sang lead. The record, which would reach #1 on the US Billboard R&B chart, was credited to “Jackie Brentson and his Delta Cats,” a name of Sam Phillips’ design.  More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 16

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll,” dies in Memphis, TN in 1977. Born in a two-room house in Tupelo, MS in 1935, he was one of the first artists to perform rockabilly, a combination of blues and country music.  He also performed such other genres as gospel and pop and made thirty-three movies.  He is the only artist to have been inducted into three halls of fame: the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.  More information available @elvis.com.

Robert Johnson, famous Delta blues musician, dies near Greenwood, MS in 1939. Born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi on May 8, 1911, he was always interested in music as a child, playing the harp, harmonica, and guitar.  During his career, he wrote 29 classic songs, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org

Jimmie Rodgers, a country singer from the early 20th century known for his rhythmic yodeling, records “Blue Yodel #9” with Louis Armstrong on trumpet and Lil Armstrong on piano in 1930. Among the first country music superstars and pioneers, Rodgers is known as “The Singing Brakeman,” America’s Blues Yodeler,” and “The Father of Country Music.” He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.  He died shortly after his last recording session in 1933.  More information available @jimmierodgers.com.

August 17

Hurricane Camille, a category 5 hurricane, strikes Mississippi in 1969, causing more than $1.4 billion dollars in damages and claiming 256 lives.  It also led to the development of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale.  More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 18

“Barkin” Bill Smith, Chicago blues singer and electric blues songwriter, is born in Cleveland, Mississippi in 1928.  He made his recording debut in 1992, providing vocals for Dave Specter’s first album. He released his first album in 1994 for Delmark, further revealing his “lush, deeply burnished” baritone that became his trademark sound. He died in April 2000 in Chicago from pancreatic cancer at the age of 71. More information available @billboard.com.

James Meredith, after braving riots to enroll at the University of Mississippi the year before, graduates with a degree in government in 1963. Born in 1933, he was the first African American student to attend University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the Civil Rights movement. His “March Against Fear” was his attempt to draw attention to black voting rights in the South and to help blacks overcome fear of violence. There is considerable enmity between Meredith and the organized Civil Rights Movement because of the distance he placed between himself and it. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.

Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima is sold in the Natchez slave market in 1788 after having been defeated in a war in what is now the country of Guinea. In 1828, he was freed after spending 40 years in slavery by the order of President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay after the Sultan of Morocco requested his release. More information available @slaveryinamerica.org.

August 19

Portions of Mississippi and Louisiana are declared major disaster areas in 1969 and become eligible for federal disaster relief funds following the destruction of Hurricane Camille. A category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Camille struck Mississippi and caused more than $1.4 billion dollars in damages and claiming 256 lives. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 20

The first African slaves arrive in Jamestown, VA in 1619. This was the beginning of black slavery in America. 17 years later in 1636, the first American slave carrier would launch in Massachusetts, officially beginning the slave trade of North America. More information available @pbs.org.

August 21

Emmett Till steps off the Illinois Central in Greenwood, MS on his way to visit his uncle in Money, MS in 1955. Born in Chicago in 1941, Till was an African American boy who was murdered at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Several nights later, Bryant's husband and his half-brother arrived at Till's great-uncle's house where they kidnapped Till, beat him, and gouged out one of his eyes before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River. His body was discovered and returned to Chicago where Till’s mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. Despite the widespread media coverage and scrutiny the subsequent trials received, the two men were acquitted by a jury of twelve white men. Till’s murder is noted as one of the crucial events that motivated the African American Civil Rights Movement. More information available @emmetttillmurder.com, pbs.org, & wikipedia.org.

August 22

Henry "Son" Sims, Delta Blues violinist, is born in Anguilla, MS in 1890. He is best known as the fiddler who played with Charlie Patton; however, he also had his own string band, called the Mississippi Corn Shuckers.  More information available @thebluestrail.com.

John Lee Hooker, blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, is born in 1917 near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Seen as one of the last links to the blues of the deep South, he moved to Detroit in the early 1940s, and by 1948, he had scored his first number-one jukebox hit and million-seller, “Boogie Chillun.” He continues to contribute to a booming interest in the blues and, notably, its acceptance by the music industry as commercially viable. Hooker was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and, in 1997, he received his third and fourth Grammy Awards for Best Traditional Blues Recording and Best Pop Collaboration. More information available @johnleehooker.com

Fanny Lou Hamer addresses the Credentials Committee at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 in Atlantic City, NJ. President Johnson cuts off extended media coverage of her speech by calling a press conference. Hamer and the black Mississippi delegation she had come with posed a challenge for Johnson because their success would mean that other Southern delegations, who were already leaning towards the Republican challenger, would publicly break from the convention’s decision to nominate Johnson. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 23

Lewis Nordan, author of Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Club, is born in Forest, MS in 1939. His other publications include four novels and two collections of short stories.  He has received the Notable Book Award and the Southern Book Award from the American Library Association for his novel, Wolf Whistle. He also received the Best Fiction Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and a Notable Fiction Prize from the American Library Institute of Arts and Letters.  More information available @olemiss.edu & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Hurricane Katrina forms somewhere in the Bahamas in 2005. Soon after forming, Katrina crossed southern Florida as a category 1 hurricane but gained strength in the Gulf of Mexico, eventually becoming a category 5. Katrina was the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, flooding 80% of New Orleans and 90% of many Mississippi beachfront towns where the worst property damage occurred. Years later, thousands of displaced residents in Mississippi and Louisiana continue to live in temporary accommodations. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 24

Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, a Delta blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist, is born in Forest, MS although he was raised in Clarksdale. He is best known for writing such songs “That’s All Right, “My Baby Left Me,” and “So Glad You’re Mine.”  He died of a heart attack in the Nassawadox hospital in Northampton, VA in 1974. He was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blue Trail placed at Forest. More information available @wikipedia.org & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

B.B. King celebrates his 30th year in show business at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles in 1979. Born in Itta Bena, MS in 1925, King is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and fluid, complex guitar-playing. An inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is ranked at No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 greatest guitarist of all time. Despite his age, King continues to record and play today and has performed over 15,000 times over his 52 year career. More information available at bbking.com.

August 25

Hurricane Katrina makes its first landfall in southern Florida in 2005. Katrina was the costliest natural disaster and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, flooding 80% of New Orleans and 90% of many Mississippi beachfront towns where the worst property damage occurred. Years later, thousands of displaced residents in Mississippi and Louisiana continue to live in temporary accommodations. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 26

Liberia, the colony established in West Africa for freed US slaves, is proclaimed an independent republic under the presidency of Joseph Roberts in 1847. American slaves founded the nation with the help of a private organization called the American Colonization Society in 1821-1822 on the premise that former American slaves would have greater freedom and equality there. More information available @memory.loc.gov.

American women earn the right to vote in 1920. More information available @womenshistory.about.com.

August 27

Lester "Prez" Young, a jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist, is born in Woodville, MS in 1909. Coming to prominence while a member of Count Basie’s orchestra, Young was one of the most influential players on his instrument, playing with a cool tone and using sophisticated harmonies. He invented or popularized much of the hipster ethos which came to be associated with the music. More information available @wikipedia.org & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

W. E. B. Du Bois, civil rights activist, scholar, and author, dies in Ghana, West Africa at the of 95. Born in 1868 in Massachusetts, he graduated from Harvard University, earning a doctorate in History and becoming the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard. Later, he moved to Atlanta to become a history and economics professor there. By 1910, he was head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP) and founder and editor of its journal. He rose to national attention for opposing Booker T. Washington’s ideas of accommodating with Jim Crow separation, campaigning instead for guarantees of civil rights and the formation of a black intellectual elite who would work for the progress of all African Americans. More information available @duboislc.org & @pbs.org.

Stevie Ray Vaughan dies in East Troy, WS at age 35 in 1990. After performing at a concert with Eric Clapton and Robert Clay in front of 25,000, he flew in a helicopter that crashed into a nearby slope and was pronounced dead hours later. He was a leading musician in Texas blues, a fusion of blues and rock. Nominated for six Grammys, he won six in addition to five W.C. Handy Awards. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000. More information available @wikipedia.org.

August 28

Emmett Till is kidnapped and murdered in Money, MS in 1955. Born in Chicago in 1941, Till was an African American boy who was murdered after reportedly flirting with Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Several nights later, Bryant's husband and his half-brother arrived at Till's great-uncle's house where they kidnapped Till, beat him, and gouged out one of his eyes before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River. His body was discovered and returned to Chicago where Till’s mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. Despite the widespread media coverage and scrutiny the subsequent trials received, the two men were acquitted by a jury of twelve white men. Till’s murder is noted as one of the crucial events that motivated the African American Civil Rights Movement. More information available @emmetttillmurder.com & @pbs.org & @wikipedia.org.

Martin Luther King Jr. gives his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington for over 200,000 people in 1963. A 17-minute pubic speech given from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it called for racial equality and an end to discrimination. It is ranked the top American speech of the 20th century a 1999 poll of scholars of public address. More information and speech itself available @americanrhetoric.com.

Barack Obama becomes the first African American to be nominated for the Presidency by a major party at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. More information available @nytimes.com.

August 29

Steve Yarbrough, author of Mississippi History and The Oxygen Man, is born in Indianola, MS in 1956. Writing largely within the Southern tradition, he draws his themes and characters from Southern history and mores in ways that have been compared to Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner. He has published another two novels and three collections of short stories and is a recipient of the Mississippi Authors Award, California Book Award, and an award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.  More information available @wikipedia.org.

Jimmy Reed, a blues harmonica player and songwriter, dies in Oakland, CA in 1976 at the age of 50. Born in 1925 in Dunleith, MS, he is notable for bringing his distinctive style of blues to mainstream audiences. His lazy, slack-jawed singing, piercing harmonica, and hypnotic guitar patterns were one of the blues’ most easily identifiable sounds in the 1950s and 1960s. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. More information available @rockhall.com.

August 30

Junior Blackman, a Delta blues drummer, is born in Leland, MS in 1935. He accompanied such musicians as Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, recording for Chess MCA, and Checker Records in the 1980s and 1990s. More information available @discogs.com.

Fannie Lou Hamer attempts unsuccessfully to register to vote in the Sunflower County Courthouse in Indianola, MS in 1962. An African American voting rights activist and Civil Rights leader, Hamer was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the SNCC and later became Vice Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which attended the 1964 National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. More information available @fannielouhamer.com.

Greenwood LeFlore, Choctaw leader and Mississippi representative and senator, dies in 1865. A wealthy and regionally influential trader with many connections in state and federal government, he elected Principal Chief of the Choctaw Natino in 1830 shortly before signing the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. After the Indian Removal of 1831, LeFlore chose to stay in Mississippi and become a US citizen. During the civil War, he sided with the Union and lost most of his property. Greenwood, MS and Leflore, MS are named after him. More information available @wikipedia.org.

 

September

 

September 1

Conway Twitty, a famed country music artist, is born as Harold Jenkins in Friars Point, MS in 1933. While he received an offer to play for the Philadelphia Phillies once he left high school, he was drafted into the US Army. Upon returning and hearing Elvis Presley, he headed to Sun Studios in Memphis, TN and worked with Sam Phillips to get the “right sound.” It was not until the 1970s when he took to country music that success came, and he received a string of CMA awards for duets with Loretta Lynn during those years. He was inducted into both the Country Music and the Rockabilly Halls of Fame. More information available @cmt.com.

Delta State President Kethley retires, and Dr. James Milton Ewing becomes president of Delta State College. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors Robert Johnson in the annual American Music Masters series in 1998. Born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi on May 8, 1911, he was always interested in music as a child, playing the harp, harmonica, and guitar.  During his career, he wrote 29 classic songs, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @rockhall.com.

September 2

Atlanta, a critical Confederate stronghold, falls to Union General Sherman after many days under siege. Sherman had invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, TN, and Confederate General Johnston’s Army of Tennessee were forced  to withdraw toward Atlanta in the face of successive flanking maneuvers by Sherman’s group of armies. More information available @wikipedia.org.

September 3

The American Revolution officially comes to an end when representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Spain, and France sign the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which also recognizes that America’s western border is the Mississippi River. More information available wikipedia.org.

September 4

Gerald Stanley Wilson, a jazz trumpeter, composer/arranger, and educator, is born in Shelby, MS in 1918. While with the Jimmie Lunceford orchestra, he contributed numbers to the band’s book, including “Hi Spook” and “Yard-dog Mazurka.” During the 1940s, he started his own band, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra and also played for Duke Ellington and Count Basie. He has also taught music at California State University and is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and an inductee of the the Mississippi Musicians’ Hall of Fame.  More information available @musicianguide.com & wikipedia.org.

Richard Wright, an African American writer, is born on a plantation near Natchez, MS in 1908. Much of his literature concerns racial themes, especially those involving the plight of African Americans during the 19th century. Growing up in Jackson, MS, he published his first story in 1924 in a local black newspaper called the Southern Register. Later moving to Chicago and becoming involved in the Communist Party there, he served as the editor for the Daily Worker. Some of his novels include Black Boy (1945), The Outsiders (1953), Savage Holiday (1954), The Long Dream (1958), and American Hunger (1977). He became a French citizen in 1947 and died on November 28, 1960.  More information available @wikipedia.org & @olemiss.edu.

Craig Claiborne, food critic, cookbook author, and NY Times food editor, is born in Sunflower, MS in 1920. He is especially known for his role as an editor at the NY Times. Over the course of his career, he made many contributions to gastronomy and food writing in the United States. To see his work at the Times, visit this link. More information available on Claiborne @wikipedia.org.

September 5

Cornelius Boyson, the bassist for Jimmy Dawkins, is born in Tunica, MS in 1936. He recorded with such artists as Fenton Robinson, Koko Taylor, and Mighty Joe Young. More information available @joes-corner.com.

Sunnyland Slim, a Chicago Blues piano legend, is born in Vance, MS in 1907. Living and working in Chicago in the 1920s, he contributed to the city’s post-war scene as a center of blues music.  He became involved in the electric blues scene, playing with such musicians as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Lockwood, and Little Walter. In 1988, he was a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts for his contributions to the blues.  He died in 1995.  More information available @wikipedia.org.

B.B. King receives a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1990. Born in Itta Bena, MS in 1925, King is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and fluid, complex guitar-playing. An inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is ranked at No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 greatest guitarist of all time. Despite his age, King continues to record and play today and has performed over 15,000 times over his 52 year career. More information available @bbking.com.

September 6

The body of Herbert Oarsby, an African American 14-year-old boy dressed in a CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) t-shirt is pulled from the Big Black River near Canton, MS in 1964. Sheriff Andrew Smith described the drowning as accidental with “no evidence of foul play.” More information available @books.google.com.

Little Hudson, a guitarist from Anguilla, MS, is born in 1919. His band was known as Little Hudson Shower’s Red Devil Trio and was considered a training ground for hip rhythm section players. More information available @answers.com.

Jimmy Reed, a blues guitarist and harmonica player, is born in Dunleith, MS in 1925.  was born on September 6, 1925 in Dunleith, Mississippi. Notable for bringing his distinctive style of blues to mainstream audiences, Reed was a major player in the field of electric blues. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1991.    More information available @rockhall.com.

September 7

“Little” Milton Campbell, an American blues and soul singer and guitarist best known for his records “Grits Ain’t Groceries and “We’re Gonna Make It” dies in 2005. Born in Inverness, MS in 1934, he was a recipient of the W. C. Handy Award and also an inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame.  He is responsible for making the national anthem of blues, “The Blues is Alright,” recognized around the world.  More information available @littlemilton.com & @wikipedia.org.

Jim Miles, former DSU baseball player, breaks into the big leagues with the Washington Senators in 1968 at the age of 25. His last game was on November 9, 1969.  More information available @baseball-almanac.com & @sportspool.com.

September 8

Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, the founder of the Church of God in Christ, is born on the Prior Farm near Memphis, TN in 1866. Bishop Mason was born the son of former slaves and raised a Baptist. At the age of 18, Mason experienced an extreme and convincing conversion episode that compelled him to preach Holiness. By the time of his death, COGIC had nearly 400,000 members. Today, it has a membership of nearly 6.7 million members, making the fourth largest denomination in the United States. More information available @memphishistory.org & @olemiss.edu.

Jimmie Rodgers, a country singer from the early 20th century known for his rhythmic yodeling, is born in Last Gap, MS in 1897. Considered to be the “Father of Country Music,” Rodgers was among the first country music superstars and pioneers and is known as “The Singing Brakeman,” America’s Blues Yodeler,” and “The Father of Country Music.” He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.  He died shortly after his last recording session in 1933.  More information available @jimmierodgers.com.

September 9

The 1957 Civil Rights Act becomes law. It was the first civil rights legislation enacted by Congress since Reconstruction and primarily consisted of voting rights. Before its eventual passage, Senator Thurmond of South Carolina sustained the longest one-person filibuster in an attempt to keep it from becoming law. Beginning with readings of every state’s election laws in alphabetical order and even including Thurmond’s grandmother’s biscuit recipe, it lasted 24 hours and 18 minutes. Although the bill’s passage seemed to indicate a growing federal commitment to the cause of civil rights, it was largely ineffective in its enforcements because of opposition and amendment; however, it paved the way for the Civil Rights Acts of 1960 and 1964. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Perry Martin, Rosedale’s most famous moonshiner, folk hero, and river rat, dies in 1968. More information available @cityofrosedalems.com.

September 10

Willie Dixon makes the R&B charts for the only time of his career with “Walking the Blues,” released on Checker, Chess Records’ sister label, in 1955. A native of Vicksburg, MS, he hitchhiked to Chicago as a teenager and later became a producer for Chess and Checker Records. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, he was one of the most prolific songwriters of his time and is recognized as one of the founders of the Chicago blues sound. Proficient on both the upright bass and the guitar in addition to his singing abilities, he worked with Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and several others.  More information available @bluesheaven.com.

Shots are fired into the homes of the Tucker, Sisson, and McDonald families in Ruleville, MS in an attempt to stop them from housing SNCC voter registration activists in 1962. Later the same night, two girls are shot in Rulevile. At the Democratic National Convention in 1964, Fannie Lou Hamer would bring these memories up as evidence of the violence blacks in the South were threatened with to deter them from voting. More information available @americanrhetoric.com.

US Supreme Court orders the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith in 1962. Born in 1933, he was the first African American student to attend University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. His “March Against Fear” was his attempt to draw attention to black voting rights in the South and to help blacks overcome fear of violence. There is considerable enmity between Meredith and the organized Civil Rights Movement because of the distance he placed between himself and it. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk

September 11

At 8:46 a.m., the first of two airliners crashes into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in NYC at 466 mph. Less than 20 minutes later at 9:03 a.m., another commercial airliner crashes into the South Tower at 590 mph. Before 10:30 a.m., both towers collapsed. These were part of a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda on the United States. Nearly 3,000 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks. The US responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror, invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, and enacting the USA Patriot Act. More information available @wikipedia.org.

William McKinley “Jazz” Gillum, a blues harmonica player, is born in Indianola, MS in 1904. Like many others who labored in the fields in the South, Gillum left Mississippi for Chicago in the 1920s. Over the next ten years, he played with Big Bill Broonzy and recorded for the Bluebird record company. His public performing came to an end in 1963 and he died three years later in 1966. He is best known for his song, “Outskirts of Town.” More information available @cascadeblues.org.

Charles Evers, an important civil rights figure in the United States and older brother of Medgar Evers (the civil rights martyr), is born in Decatur, MS in 1922. After attending Alcorn State University and serving in the United States Army, he moved to Chicago where he owned a nightclub and worked as a real estate agent.  After the death of his brother, Medgar Evers, he took over as the field director for the NAACP.  He later became the first black mayor in post-Reconstruction Mississippi.  He has written two autobiographies, Evers (1971) and Have No Fear (1997).  More information available @pbs.org & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

September 12

Gus Cannon, blues artist, is born in Redbanks, MS in 1883. Moving to Clarksdale, MS at the age of 12, he was influenced there by Jim Turner and Alex Lee and taught himself to play using a banjo he made from a frying pan and a raccoon skin. He is best known for popularizing jug bands in the 1920s and 1930s. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

September 13

Larry M. Speakes, a resident of Merigold, MS and spokesman for President Reagan, is born in Cleveland, MS in 1939. He served as the spokesman for the White House under Reagan from 1981 to 1987. Before serving at the White House, he had been editor of the Oxford Eagle and the Bolivar Commercial. More information available @presidency.ucsb.edu.

September 14

Furry Lewis, a Memphis blues icon and guitarist, dies in Memphis in 1981 at the age of 88. Born in Greenwood, MS in 1893, Lewis was one of the first of the old-timeblues musicians of the 1920s to be brought out of retirement to record and play in the folk and blues revival of the 1960s, performing with such rock and roll groups as The Rolling Stones. More information available @cascadeblues.org & @nps.gov.

Uniting rail lines coming north from New Orleans and south from Memphis, the Golden Spike is driven in the vicinity of Boyle, MS in 1884.

Beah Richards, an actress from Vicksburg, MS of stage, screen, and television, dies in 2000. Her career started to take off in 1955 when she portrayed an eighty-four-year-old grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step. She was nominated for a Tony award for her 1965 performance in The Amen Corner and for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1967 film, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. She made numerous television appearances and won two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 and another in 2000. More information available @wikipedia.org.

September 15

Snooky Pryor, a blues harp player, is born in Lambert, MS in 1921. He claimed to have pioneered the now-common method of playing amplified harmonica by cupping a small microphone in his hands along with the harmonica. He is known for his Delta blues style influenced by Sonny Boy Williamson and recorded some of the first postwar Chicago blues records. More information available @hohnerusa.com & @blindpigrecords.com.

Delta State Teachers College, later to become Delta State University, begins its first regular session in 1925. More information available @deltastate.edu.

September 16

B.B. King, the “King of the Blues,” is born in Itta Bena, MS in 1925. King is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and fluid, complex guitar-playing. An inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is ranked at No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 greatest guitarist of all time. Despite his age, King continues to record and play today and has performed over 15,000 times over his 52 year career. More information available @bbking.com.

September 17

Stewart Cliburn, DSU Baseball Alumni, breaks into the big leagues with the Californian Angels in 1984. After four seasons with the Angels, he was a pitching coach with the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A and Double-A affiliates in order to aid in the development of younger pitchers. More information available @sportspool.com.

Eddie Burks, a blues harmonica player and singer well known for playing in Maxwell Street Market, Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s, is born outside of Greenwood on the Rising Sun Plantation in 1931. His later career included a number of album releases, frequent touring, work on the festival circuit, and an appearance in the Academy Award nominated film, Blues Highway. More information available @mnblues.com.

September 19

Willie Foster, blues harmonica player and band leader, is born in Leland, MS in 1921. Known around his home in Greenville as the “Godfather of the Blues,” he often toured with his three-piece band, opening for Muddy Waters. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Charlie Connerly, NFL Rookie of the Year (1948) and Most Valuable Player (1959), is born in Clarksdale, MS in 1921. A quarterback for the New York Giants from 1948 to 1961 and an inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1966, he died in 1996. More information available @wikipedia.org & @nytimes.com.

The first foreign born citizens are naturalized in Bolivar County in 1848.

September 20

The first boll weevil is found in Mississippi by W.D. Hunter in 1907. Native to Central America, it migrated into the US form Mexico in the late 19th century and had infested all US cotton-growing areas by the 1920s, devastating the industry and the people working in the American south. Since 1978, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the US has allowed full-scale cultivation to resume in many regions. More information available @wikipedia.org.

James Meredith is barred from entering the University of Mississippi in 1962. Born in 1933, he was the first African American student to attend University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. His “March Against Fear” was his attempt to draw attention to black voting rights in the South and to help blacks overcome fear of violence. There is considerable enmity between Meredith and the organized Civil Rights Movement because of the distance he placed between himself and it. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.

September 21

Bo Carter, a bluesman and member of the Mississippi Shieks Armenter, dies in Memphis, TN in 1964 at the age of 71. Born in Bolton, MS in 1893, he was one of the most popular blues musicians during the 1930s and continued to play music even as his vision started to deteriorate. While known to compose sensitive, introspective songs, he added such tracks as “Banana in Your Fruit Basket” and “Please Warm My Weiner” to his final record that lost him appeal with the public in the 1940s. He died in poverty in 1964. More info @wikipedia.org.

September 22

Dan Sane, guitarist and Memphis blues pioneer, is born in Hernando, MS in 1896. He was a working associate of Frank Stokes, and the pair emerged as one of “the most complementary duos in all of the blues, with Sane’s flat-picking ideally embellished Stoke’s fluid rhythms,” according to an Allmusic journalist. The best known of Sane’s penned songs were “Downtown Blues” and “Mr. Crump Don’t Like It.” More information available @wikipedia.org.

US Representative Marion Barry and US Senator Blanche Lincoln announce legislation creating the Delta Regional Authority in 1999. The DRA is a federal-state partnership serving a 240 county-parish area in an eight-state region that is designed to remedy severe and chronic economic development distress by stimulating economic development and fostering partnerships. More information available @mississippi.org.

Tom Rushing, Merigold resident and Bolivar County Sherriff, dies in 1990. He is the subject of Charley Patton’s misspelled 1929 recording, Tom Rushen’s Blues.

September 23

 

John Lomax, a pioneering musicologist and folklorist who recorded many early bluesmen, is born in Goodman, MS in 1875. After years of teaching as a professor, he devoted all of his time to traveling around the US in order to document American folk traditions and music.  His contributions can be seen in the Library of Congress and through his involvement in the WPA. He died in 1948 and was inducted into the Western Music Hall of Fame in 2010. More information available @memory.loc.gov & @wikipedia.org.

Amzie Moore, Civil Rights activist, WWII veteran, and businessman, is born in Cleveland, MS in 1912. Upon his return from the war, he opened his own gas station, beauty shop, and grocery store on Highway 61.  He was a member of the NAACP, assisted the formation of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, and founded the first black Boy Scout troop in Cleveland.  As a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, he opened up his home for other activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis. He died in 1982. More information available @fannielouhamer.com.

Little Joe Blue, a blues singer and guitarist from Vicksburg, MS, is born Joseph Valery in Vicksburg, MS in 1934. Influenced by Louis Jordan, Joe Liggins, and B.B. King, he recorded with various record labels including Chess’ Checker Records during the 1950s and 60s. He died in 1990 at the age of 55 from stomach cancer. More information available @wikipedia.org & @oldies.com.

September 24

Jim Henson, resident of Greenville, MS and creator of the Muppets, is born in 1936. He performed in various television programs such as The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. He was nominated for an Oscar and won three Emmy Awards for his television production, Sesame Street.  He founded the Jim Henson Company, the Henson Foundation, and the Jim Henson Creature Shop.  On May 16, 1990, he died from organ failure caused by a bacterial infection.  More information available @jimhensonlegacy.com.

The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act becomes federal law in 2008, allowing federal prosecution of unsolved murders from the 1960s. More information available @govtrack.us.

After deliberating for only 67 minutes, an all-white jury in Sumner, Tallahatchie County, MS finds Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam not guilty of the abduction and murder of Emmett Till in 1955. In later interviews, the jurors acknowledged that they knew Bryant and Milam were guilty but simply did not believe that life imprisonment or the death penalty (the only two outcomes for capital murder) fit punishment for whites who had killed a black man. More information available @wikipedia.org & @pbs.org.

September 25

Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, known for playing the guitar with his teeth and tongue, is born in Longwood, MS in 1936. Born in Longwood, MS in 1936. Beginning to play at juke joints with his harmonica at the age of sixteen, he did not form his own band, called the Swinging Gold Coasters, until 1956. He was largely inspired by Howlin’ Wolf, and Howlin’ Wolf even called him “little wolf.” He died from lung cancer in 1996 in Chicago. More info available @cascadeblues.org.

William Faulkner is born in New Albany, MS in 1897. Raised in Oxford, MS, Faulkner was heavily influenced by his home state as well as by the history and culture of the entire American South. He is considered one of the most important writers of Southern literature. Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of his works, A Fable and The Reivers, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He died on July 6, 1962.  More information available @olemiss.edu.

Rosa Lee Hill, a Delta blues musician, is born in Como, MS in 1910. She is known to have played in the north Mississippi blues style, singing trance-inducing acoustic blues that make use of subtly varied repetition. More information available @sundayblues.org.

“Chain Gang” by Sam Cooke is #2 on both the R&B and pop charts in 1960. Born in Clarksdale in 1931, He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music and is commonly known as the King of Soul, having 29 top-40 hits in the U.S. between 1957 and 1964. Among the first modern black performers to attend to the business side of his musical career, he founded both a record label and a publishing company and took an active role in the Civil Rights Movement. More information available @wikipedia.org.

September 26

Ross Barnett, the governor of Mississippi in the early 1960s and a staunch segregationist, appoints himself Ole Miss’s registrar and blocks the admission of the university’s first black student, James Meredith, in 1962. As a result, he was fined $10,000 and sentenced to jail for contempt but never paid the fine or served a day in jail. His tumultuous clashes with the US Civil Rights movement were popular in Mississippi and are now partly understood to detract attention from his failures in office (i.e. cronyism, failures to fulfill promises). More information available @nytimes.com.

Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, dies in the G.T. Thomas Hospital, an African American clinic, in Clarksdale, MS in 1937. Born in Chattanooga, TN in 1892 or 1894 (sources report differently), she toured through the south and other northern cities in the 1920s as one of the highest paid black entertainers. She was killed in a car accident in Clarksdale, MS, leaving behind 160 recordings of her work.  More information available @pbs.org.

September 27

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek is signed in 1830, transferring a large amount of Choctaw and most of the Delta to the state of Mississippi. More information available @rootsweb.ancestry.com & @wikipedia.org.

September 28

Jerry Clower, a popular country comedian best known for his stories of the rural South, is born in Liberty, MS in 1926. A member of the Grand Ole Opry, he died in 1998 following heart bypass surgery.  More information available @olemiss.edu.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis opens its door to visitors in 1991. More information available @civilrightsmuseum.org.

September 29

Jimmy Patton, NY Giants and MS Sports Hall of Fame inductee, is born in Greenville, MS in 1933. After attending E. E. Bass High School in Greenville, he played football for Ole Miss in college and finished his football career in the NFL with the Giants in 1966 after 11 seasons. More information available @wikipedia.org & @pro-football.reference.com.

Houston Stackhouse, a Delta blues guitarist and singer, is born in Wesson, MS in 1910. He is best known for his association with Robert Nighthawk. Although Stackhouse is not especially noted for his guitar or vocal talents, Nighthawk showed gratitude for Stackhouse’s teachings by backing him on a number of records in the 1960s. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

September 30

Intending to be the first African American to enroll in the University of Mississippi, James Meredith is escorted onto the campus by federal marshals in 1962. During the resulting riots, two men are killed. 160 soldiers were injured, and 28 US Marshals were wounded by gunfire. Meredith’s actions were regarded as a pivotal moment in the history of civil rights in the United States, and he graduated in 1963 with a degree in political science. More information available @spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk.

A race riot breaks out in Elaine, AR between blacks and whites in 1919. Approximately 100 African American farmers, under the leadership of Union leader Robert Hill, met a church “to obtain better payments for their cotton crops from the white plantation owners who dominated the area during the Jim Crow era. Black sharecroppers were often exploited in their efforts to collect payment for their cotton crops.” More information available @wikipedia.org.

 

October

October 1

James Meredith succeeds in becoming the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi in 1962, graduating two years later with a degree in political science. More information available @usmarshals.gov & @olemiss.edu.

Stella Stevens is born Estelle Caro Eggleston in Yazoo City, MS. Among other things, she was Playboy’s Playmate of the Month in 1960 and appeared with Elvis in Girls, Girls, Girls. More information available @stellastevens.biz.

October 2

Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American Supreme Court Justice in 1967. Before becoming a judge, Marshall was a lawyer best remembered for his high success rate in arguing before the Supreme Court and for the victory in Brown v. Board of Education. He spent his tenure as judge establishing a record for supporting the voiceless American. More information available @chnm.gmu.edu.

The Sheriff of Tallhatchie County, and the citizens of the Emmett Till Commission apologize to the family of Emmett Till for “what was done in this community to your loved one” in 2007. Emmett Till was a 14-year-old African American boy murdered in 1955 in the Mississippi Delta after reportedly flirting with a white woman. More information available @wikipedia.org.

The mechanical cotton picker is publicly and successfully demonstrated at Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale, MS in 1944. More info available @hopsonplantation.com.

October 3

Skip James, master of the “Bentonia Style Blues,” dies in 1969. His guitar playing is noted for its dark, minor sound with intricate finger-picking. He first recorded for Paramount Records in 1931 but drifted into obscurity until his rediscovery in 1964 by blues and folk music enthusiasts. His song influenced such musicians as Robert Johnson, Cream, and Kansas Joe McCoy. More information available @nps.gov.

October 4

Charley Pride, one of the greatest country music superstars, is inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. Born in Sledge, MS in 1955, he was the first African American country music superstar and was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry, later receiving his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  His greatest success came in the early to mid-1970s when he was featured on 39 number-one hits on the Billboard Country Music chart. More information available @charleypride.com.

The Russians launch Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth’s orbit, in 1957. The New York Times reports, “As it passes over the United States, it transmits a signal – surely the most ominous beep-beep-beep that any American has ever heard.” The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik’s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space Race within the Cold War. More information available @history.nasa.gov & @wikipedia.org.

October 5

Bo Diddley enters the pop Top 40 for the first time with “Say Man” in 1959. Born Otha Ellas Bates on December 28, 1928, he was a key player in the transition from blues to rock & roll, influencing such artists as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Eric Clapton. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar. More info available @bo-diddley.com.

President Harry Truman makes his first-ever televised presidential address from the White House in 1947, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans. At the time of Truman’s food-conservation speech, Europe was still recovering from World War II and suffering from famine. More information available @history.com.

October 6

Fannie Lou Hamer, a Civil Rights leader most identified with Ruleville, MS, is born in Montgomery County in 1917. An African American voting rights activist and Civil Rights leader, Hamer was instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the SNCC and later became Vice Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which attended the 1964 National Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. More information available @fannielouhamer.com.

October 7

Public education officially begins in Bolivar County, MS in 1839. More information available on Bolivar County’s school system @co.bolivar.ms.us.

October 9

Trent Lott, US Senator, is born in Grenada, MS in 1941. A former MS Congressman who served in numerous leadership positions in the United States House and Senate, he rose to the position of Senate majority leader in 1996 only to fall from power in 2007 after praising Strom Thurmond’s 1948 segregationist Dixiecrat presidential bid. More information available @nytimes.com.

October 10

Wade Walton, blues artist and barber, is born in Clarksdale, MS in 1923. He started performing with Ike and Turner and the Kings of Rhythm in the 1940s and went on to play with Archoolie and Bluesville-Presitge label. He worked for 55 years as a barber in Clarksdale. Walton died in 2000 at the age of 77. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

October 11

Stark Young, a Delta author, is born in Como, MS in 1881. Stark was a teacher, painter, playwright, painter, novelist, essayist, and literary critic. In addition to writing weekly essays for The New Republic and a best-selling novel, So Red The Rose, he is seen as one of the most cosmopolitan and multi-talented of the state’s major literary figures. Throughout his career, however, he retained the characteristically Southern perspective he had acquired during his childhood in MS. More information available @olemiss.edu.

October 12

Booker T. Washington speaks at the Old Court House in Vicksburg, MS in 1901. Born into slavery in 1856, Washington became a dominant figure in the African American community from 1890 to 1915 and spoke largely on behalf of the many blacks who lived in the South but had lost their right to vote. During a difficult period of transition, he did much to improve the working relationship between the races, and his efforts to provide blacks with higher education opportunities and financial power laid the foundation of skill needed for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. More information available @pbs.org, docsouth.unc.edu, wikipedia.org.

October 13

Jesse Brown, the first black pilot in the US Navy, is born in Hattiesburg, MS in 1926. He died in battle on December 4, 1950 when his plane was shot down.  The USS Jesse L. Brown was named in his honor.  More information available @homeofheroes.com & @airwarriors.com.

Jerry Rice, MVSU alumnus and former football wide receiver in the NFL, is born in Crawford, MS in 1962. Playing for the San Francisco 49ers, he won Super Bowls in 1989, 1990, and 1995. An inductee in the NFL Hall of Fame, he is generally regarded as the greatest wide receiver and one of the greatest players in NFL history. He is the all-time leader in most major statistical categories for wide receivers and the all-time NFL leader in touchdowns scored with 208. More info available @jerryricefootball.com.

Ethel Wright Mohamed, known for her quilted pictures, is born in Webster County in 1906. She used intricate stitches to tell the stories of her family’s life on fabric, providing insights into the greater Mississippi Delta’s way of life. She died in 1992, and her home in Belzoni, MS is now a museum for her work. More information available @mamasdreamworld.com.

October 14

Caroline Nye McGeoy, actress and wife of Dick Cavett, is born in Greenwood, MS in 1936. She made her debut on Broadway in 1960 in the play A Second String. She was nominated for a Tony Award in 1965 and for an Emmy Award in 1980. She was married to Dick Cavett until her death in 2006 from lung cancer. More info available @nytimes.com.

Son House, a blues singer and guitarist, is born in Riverton, MS in 1926. House pioneered an innovative style that incorporated elements of southern gospel and spiritual music with the aid of slide guitar. He was recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941 and 1942. More info available @slidingdelta.com.

Martin Luther King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, becoming the youngest person to do so. It is awarded for his efforts to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means. More information available @nobelprize.org.

October 15

Leflore County Court rules that Claud Johnson is the son and heir of blues great, Robert Johnson, in 1998. Despite the fact that Robert Johnson died penniless, his estate subsequently made thousands in royalties, prompting an estate dispute and lengthy probate. More information available @savewealth.com.

October 16

Booker T. Washington dines with President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House in 1901, inciting a national uproar. As part of his concession speech, John McCain brings up this fact, saying, “A century ago, President Roosevelt’s invitation to Booker T. Washington at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States.” More information available @historynotebook.blogspot.com.

Big Joe Williams, a Delta blues artist, is born in Crawford, MS in 1903. Notable for the distinctive sound of his nine-string guitar, he died in 1982 at the age of 79. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1992. More info available @wikipedia.org.

October 17

Lerone Bennett, a Delta author, is born in Clarksdale, MS in 1928. Considered one of the most influential black writers of the twentieth century, he was an editor for Ebony magazine for more than fifty years.  He published seven books during his time there regarding the role that African Americans have played throughout American history. More information available @nathanielturner.com & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Calvin Barbour, a professional basketball player and MS Sports Hall of Fame inductee, is born in Vicksburg, MS in 1899. He earned four letters in football at Ole Miss and is an inductee of their Hall of Fame as well. More information available @olemiss.edu.

October 18

The Treaty of Doak’s Stand cedes half of Choctaw lands to Mississippi in 1820 in return for equivalent land in Oklahoma. This land makes up about half of the Delta. Pushmata, the leader of the Choctaws, accused Jackson of trading land to his people that was of a much lesser quality, but, once Jackson offered the alternative of destruction of the Choctaw nation, the treaty was signed shortly after. More information available @wikipedia.org & choctaw.org.

October 19

Son House, a blues singer and guitarist, dies in 1988. Born in Riverton, MS, House pioneered an innovative style that incorporated elements of southern gospel and spiritual music with the aid of slide guitar. He was recorded for the Library of Congress in 1941 and 1942. More info available @slidingdelta.com.

October 20

WABG-TV (Channel 6) Greenwood-Greenville begins broadcasting in 1959. More information available @wabg.com.

October 21

Jesse Brown, native of Hattiesburg, MS, wins his wings and becomes the first black pilot in the US Navy in 1948. The gunboat, USS Jesse L. Brown, was later named in his honor. More information available @homeofheroes.com & @airwarriors.com.

Doctor Ross, a blues singer and musician, is born in Tunica, MS in 1925. A one-man band, Ross played various forms of the blues that have seen him compared to John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson I. Best known for his recordings with Sun Records in the 1950s, he died in 1993. More info available @wikipedia.org.

Steve Cropper, a guitarist, songwriter, and record producer, is born in Dora, MO in 1941. He is best known as the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.’s. He later gained fame as a member of the Blues Brothers band. More information available @playitsteve.com.

October 22

Haley Barbour, the 63rd governor of Mississippi, is born in Yazoo City in 1947. After his successful election in 2003, he gained a national spotlight in 2005 after Mississippi was hit by Hurricane Katrina and was named governor of the year for his efforts to rebuild homes along the coast. He also has been praised for his support of farm subsidies and his balancing of the state budget. However, he has also received criticism for his actions perceived as disenfranchising the poor, such as reductions in spending to Medicaid (reducing coverage for Poverty-Level Aged and Disabled citizens), his refusal to approve a bill that would raise the cigarette tax and lower the grocery tax, and his perceived insensitivity to race relations, specifically in his defense of the White Citizens’ Council. More info available @governorbarbour.com.

Eli Whiteside, DSU alumnus and San Francisco Giants catcher, is born in New Albany, MS in 1979. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the sixth round of the 2001 MLB Draft. He is known for his completely gray hair despite his young age. More information available @baseball-almanac.com.

Walter Davis, a bluesman from Grenada, MS, dies in St. Louis in 1963. Born in 1912, Davis played with Henry Townsend and Peetie Wheatstraw. He was among the most productive and popular recording artists in blues during the 1930s and 40s, cutting about 180 sides. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2005. More information available @sundayblues.org.

October 23

L.C. Green, blues producer and guitarist, is born in Minter City, MS in 1921. More information available @allmusic.com.

Jackson State University opens in Natchez, MS in 1877. It operates for the next 63 years as Natchez Seminary, a private school under the auspices of the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York, to educate Mississippi’s newly freed and underprivileged blacks. More information available @wikipedia.org.

October 24

Construction begins on the Delta Steam Electric Station north of Cleveland in 1951. Construction continued until June of 1954. More information available @cityofclevelandms.com.

The first divorce decree is recorded in Bolivar County in 1853.

October 26

Bo Diddley releases The Originator, an album whose title reflects his claim as one of the founders of rock and roll. Born Otha Ellas Bates on December 28, 1928, Diddley was a key player in the transition from blues to rock & roll, influencing such artists as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Eric Clapton. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar. More info available @bodiddley.com

October 27

Henry “Mule Townsend, blues artist and Grammy winner, is born in Shelby, MS in 1909. He is the only blues artist to have recorded during every decade from the 1920s to the 200s. Townsend died in 2006 and was added to the Mississippi Blues Trail in 2009. More information available @wikipedia.org.

The first MISS DELTA, the original student publication, appears in 1926 with William D. McCain as editor at Delta State.

Jim Frasier, actor and author, is born in New Orleans in 1954. He grew up in Greenwood, MS.

October 28

 

 

Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin in 1794. Born in 1765 in Westboro, MA, he was an inventor, engineer, and manufacturer.  His cotton gin was one of the key inventions of the Industrial revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. His inception of interchangeable parts into the manufacturing and weapons industries proved profitable for him and invaluable for consumers. More information available @eliwhitney.org & @wikipedia.org.

President Taft and other prominent leaders and media come to Vicksburg, MS in 1909. Reputed for including citizens in his policy discussions, he traveled by steamboat to different Delta towns to discuss issues facing the area and the nation. More information available @whitehouse.gov.

Will Hatcher, blues singer and mandolin player, is born in Clarksdale, MS in 1909. More information available @allmusic.com.

October 29

Wayne and Minnie Cox found the largest black bank in Mississippi, called the Delta Penny Savings Bank, in Indianola, MS in 1904. More information available @aaregistry.org.

The Stock Market crashes in 1929, beginning the Great Depression. The most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, the crash signaled the beginning of the 12-year Great Depression that did not end until the onset of American mobilization and industrial expansion for World War II and the subsequent rebuilding of Europe under the Marshall Plan. More information available @pbs.org @ wikipedia.org.

The US Supreme Court orders Mississippi in 1969 to desegregate all schools “at once.” Their previous phrase in 1955, “with all deliberate speed,” provided a vague timeline for the South, which remained segregated for fifteen years. More information available @wikipedia.org.

 

November

November 1

Robert Johnson, known as the “King of the Delta Blues”, has his first recording session in a room of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, TX in 1936. Born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi in 1911, he wrote 29 songs during his career, but only a few were recorded at the time of his death.  Despite being remembered well for his talented displays of singing, guitar playing, and songwriting, his personal life is poorly documented and has given rise to much legend. Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” More information available @robertjohnsonbluesfoundation.org.

November 2

“Mississippi” John Hurt, a country blues singer and guitarist, dies in Grenada, MS in 1966. Growing up in Avalon, MS, he learned to play the guitar when he was nine years old. Though he recorded for the first time in the 1920s and 30s, it was not until his rediscovery in the 1960s blues and folk revival that he returned to touring and recording. His songs continued to be covered after his death by Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, and Beck.  More information available @msjohnhurtmuseum.com & @mindspring.com.

President Ronald Reagan signs a bill in 1983 designating a federal holiday on the third Monday of January honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

November 3

American Legion Post 36 is organized in Cleveland, MS in 1919.

November 4

Haley Barbour is elected in 2003 as Mississippi’s 63rd governor in the largest turnout in a gubernatorial election in state history. A native of Yazoo City, MS, he was praised for his response to Hurricane Katrina in the state and his support of farm subsidies, corporate welfare, and eminent domain. More information available @governorbarbour.com.

Sonny Boy Nelson, a Delta Blues guitarist and singer, dies in Greenville, MS in 1998. Born in Utica, MS as Eugene Powell in 1908, he performed and recorded with the Mississippi Sheiks. While later electric styles overshadowed his fame, he’s known for the many musical instruments he played and his personally stylized guitars. More information available @cascadeblues.com.

Willie Love, blues pianist and vocalist, is born in Duncan, MS in 1906. He is best known for his association with and accompaniment of Sonny Boy Williamson II. As a piano player, he was adept at both standard blues and boogie-woogie styling and recorded with not only Williamson but also Little Milton. More information available @wikipedia.org.

November 5

Ike Turner, a “Father of Rock n’ Roll,” is born in Clarksdale, MS in 1931. His first recording, “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats is considered by many to be the first “rock and roll song” because of the distortion heard on the track’s guitars. He is best known, however, for his work with Tina Turner. Winning two Grammy Awards during his lifetime, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. More information available @nytimes.com.

Robert Nighthawk, a slide guitarist, dies in Helena, AR in 1967. He played with such local musicians as Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, and Sonny Boy Williamson in the 1930s and returned to the music scene in the 1950s to compete with Muddy Waters for attention since the two had a similar style. While Nighthawk continued to perform and record, he never achieved the same commercial success. He is honored with a Mississippi Blues historic marker in Friars Point, MS. More info @cascadeblues.org

November 6

Jefferson Davis is elected as President of the Confederate States of America in 1861. He was unanimously elected at a constitutional convention in Montgomery, AL because he was a well-known moderate known to have a great deal of experience. Purportedly, Davis actually wanted to serve as a general in the Confederate States Army and not as the president. More information available @wikipedia.org

Zig Ziglar, author, salespman, and motivational speaker, is born as Hilary Hinton in Coffee County, AL in 1926. Raised in Yazoo City, MS, he started off as a cookware salesman but began a career in public speaking, with an emphasis on Christian values, in 1970. Despite his age, he continues to travel and take part in motivational seminars. He has written 48 works and is the Chairman of the Zig Ziglar Corporation.  More information available @ziglar.com & wikipedia.org.

Abraham Lincoln is elected the sixteenth president of the United States of America in 1860. Because of Lincoln’s vehement and publicized opposition to slavery, secessionists made clear their intent to leave the Union when Lincoln’s victory became evident, and on December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the lead in seceding. Less than two months later, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed. More information available @wikipedia.org.

Arthur “Big Boy” Spires, a Chicago blues guitarist, is born in Yazoo City in 1912. His track, “Murmer Low,” which had a strong Tommy Johnson influence, is considered a classic today. He died in Chicago in 1990. More information available @allmusic.com & wikipedia.org.

November 7

The site of the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in Noxubee County is declared a national historic landmark in 1973. More information available @tps.cr.nps.gov & @wikipedia.org.

Jack Owens, a Delta blues singer and guitarist, is born in Bentonia, MS 1904. He farmed, bootlegged, and ran a weekend juke joint in Bentonia for most of life. Preferring to remain at home, he performed only on his front porch and was not recorded until the blues revival of the 1960s. However, in the final decades of his life, he traveled the music festival circuit in the United States and Europe but died in Yazoo City, MS in 1997. More information available @msbluestrail.org.

November 8

Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected President in 1932, promising the New Deal, a variety of programs designed to produce recovery, relief, and reform, in order to combat the Great Depression. More information available @whitehouse.gov.

President Lincoln is elected for a second term in 1864. More information available @wikipedia.com.

Eddie “Vaan” Shaw is born in Greenville, MS in 1954. The son of Eddie Shaw, a blues saxophonist from the Chicago blues scene, Vaan had the opportunity to meet some of the city’s greatest blues musicians as a child. Eventually, he joined his father’s band, the Wolf Gang, and has gone onto a solo career since. More information available @wolfrec.com.

Lonnie Pitchford, Delta Blues musician and instrument maker, dies in 1998 from AIDS. Born in Lexington in 1955, he was notable in continuing the Delta blues traditions of the older generations. More info @mswritersandmusicians.com.

November 9

Joe Moorman, a Delta artist, is born in Greenville, MS in 1967. Despite no formal art training, his career in fine art took off with his beginnings in mosaics and sculpture. He currently lives with his wife and bandicoot in Decatur, GA. More information available @riversonfineart.com.

Robert Nighthawk is born in 1909 (though some sources say he was born on November 30) in Helena, AR. He played with such local musicians as Henry Townsend, Big Joe Williams, and Sonny Boy Williamson in the 1930s and returned to the music scene in the 1950s to compete with Muddy Waters for attention since the two had a similar style. While Nighthawk continued to perform and record, he never achieved the same commercial success. He is honored with a Mississippi Blues historic marker in Friars Point, MS. More info @cascadeblues.org

November 10

George “Mojo” Buford, a blues harmonica player, is born in Hernando, MS in 1929. He is best known for his work with Muddy Waters, replacing Little Walter in 1959 to back him. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

Bobby Rush, a blues musician, composer, and singer, is born in Holmer, LA in 1935. His style incorporates elements of soul blues, rap, and funk. He found his way onto the Billboard R&B chart in the early 70s with a few tracks and later received the award “Best Male Soul Blues Artist” at the Blues Music Awards. More information available @wikipedia.org & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

November 11

Bukka White, musician and uncle to BB King, is born in Houston, MS in 1909 but grows up in Clarksdale. White began playing the fiddle at square dances at an early age. During his musical career, he was known for his blues singing and playing of the national steel guitar.  During the time he spent in Parchman Farm State prison, he recorded “Shake ‘Em on Down” and “Po’ Boy,” which became very well known.  More information available @nps.gov.

Mose Allison, jazz pianist, composer, poet, and singer, is born in Tippo, MS in 1927. He launched his jazz career in the late 1950s and continued to record into the 1990s. He has influenced many blues and rock artists, including Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, the Yard Birds, and The Who. After a 12 year absence, he released a record in 2010. More information available @moseallison.com.

November 12

Mound Bayou Oil Mill and Manufacturing Company is dedicated in 1912. A project of the Mississippi Negro Business League, it is dedicated by Dr. Booker T. Washington with a crowd of more than 16,000 attending. Chicagoan Julius Rosenwald is a major investor. More info available @travel.nostalgiaville.com.

Gerald Damon Glass, former DSU basketball player and NBA player, is born in Greenwood, MS in 1967. As Ole Miss’s sixth leading all-times scorer, he went onto to play with the Minnesota Timberwolves as the 20th overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft. After playing for the Detroist Pistons, the New Jersey Nets, and Charlotte Hornets, he retired to work the head coaching position at his old high school. More information available @wikipedia.org.

November 13

Holt Collier assists Teddy Roosevelt in a bear hunt in Sharkey County, MS. Roosevelt refuses to finish off a bear that Collier rounds up for him, and the phenomenon of the “teddy bear” is born. More info available @wikipedia.org.

The US Supreme Court declares Alabama laws requiring segregated buses illegal in 1956; this ends the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a political and social protest lead by Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and others that caused crippling financial deficit for the Montgomery public transit system. The boycott began with the refusal of Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person in December of 1955. More information available @montgomeryboycott.com.

November 15

Floyd Seneca Womack, nicknamed “Pork Chop,” is born in Cleveland, MS in 1978. After playing college football at Mississippi State, he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft and has played as a right tackle and a right guard. He is currently a free agent. More info @wikipedia.org.

November 16

W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” is born in Florence, AL in 1873. Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters and is credited with giving blues its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music. More information available @una.edu, nps.gov, & wikipedia.org.

Hubert Sumlin, a blues guitarist and singer, is born in Greenwood, MS in 1931. He is best known for his celebrated work as a guitarist in Howlin’ Wolf’s band. His style is characterized by “wrenching, shattering bursts of notes, sudden cliff-hanger silences and daring rhythmic suspensions.” He is listed as number 65 in the Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988. Despite lung removal surgery in 2004, he continues to perform as of 2010. More info available @hubertsumlinblues.com.

Brewer Phillips, a Chicago blues guitarist, is born in Coila, MS in 1924. Learning the blues from Memphis Minnie, he relocated to Memphis and played with Roosevelt Sykes and Hound Dog Taylor. He died in 1999 at the age of 74. More information available @elvispelvis.com & @wikipedia.org.

November 17

Shelby Foote, an author and historian, is born in Greenville, MS in 1916. Born in 1916, Foote’s life and writing paralleled the radical shift from the agrarian planter system of the Old South to the Civil Rights era of the New South. He is best known for The Civil War: A Narrative, a three-volume history of the war, but published several other novels including: Shiloh, Tournament, and Follow me Down. He died in 2005 of a heart attack.   More information available @nytimes.com.

November 18

Dennis Binder, a musician, is born in Rosedale, MS in 1928. Binder recorded for Chess Records and Sun Records in the 1950s and even returned to the Delta to record with Ike Turner in Clarksdale in 1954. He currently is on a recording deal with Earwing Music and released an album in 2006. More information available @earwingmusic.com.

Eddie Tucker, a DSU baseball alumnus, is born in Greenville, MS in 1966. He was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1988 and went on to play for the Astros and the Indians until his career’s end in 1995. More info @baseball-almanac.com.

Junior Parker, Cleveland native and MS Musician Hall of Fame Inductee, dies in 1971. Discovered by Ike Turner in 1952, he signed onto Modern Records and later Sun Records. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001 and is best remembered for his unique voice which has been described as “honeyed” and “velvet-smooth.” More information available @allmusic.com.

November 20

Bo Diddley appears live on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1955. Instead of singing “Sixteen Tons,” which Sullivan had requested and expected, Bo launches right into “Bo Diddley” after his introduction, and he never appears on the show again. He was the first African American to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. Born Otha Ellas Bates on December 28, 1928, Diddley was a key player in the transition from blues to rock n’ roll. More information available @kaneva.com.

J. Blackfoot, a singer of the R&B group, The Barkays, and the Gospel group, The Soul Children, is born in Greenville, MS in 1946. He started a solo career in the 1984 with the single, “Taxi.” More information available @soulbluesmusic.com.

November 21

B.B. King records Every Day I Have the Blues in 1964. Born in Itta Bena, MS in 1925, King is a blues guitarist and singer-songwriter acclaimed for his expressive singing and fluid, complex guitar-playing. An inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is ranked at No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 100 greatest guitarist of all time. Despite his age, King continues to record and play today and has performed over 15,000 times over his 52 year career. More information available  @bbking.com.

Fiddlin’ Joe Martin, who played fiddle with Charley Patton and recorded with Son House, dies in Walls, MS at age 75 in 1975. He was born in Edwards, MS and was also recorded by Alan Lomax in 1941. More information available @allmusic.com.

Robert Lockwood Jr., a blues artist from Helena, AR, dies in 2006. He recorded for Chess Records among other Chicago labels in the 1950s and 60s and is best known as a longtime collaborator with Sonny Boy Williamson II in addition to his work with Little Walter Jacobs in the 1950s. More info available @washingtonpost.com.

November 24

Rust College in Holly Springs is founded in 1866. More information available @rustcollege.edu.

November 25

Edward Riley Boyd, a bluesman, is born on Stovall plantation near Clarksdale, MS in 1914. He initially made a living by playing in juke joints around Mississippi but later moved to Memphis in 1936 where he played with his band, Dixie Rhythm Boys.  In 1941, he moved to Chicago and worked with Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson but didn’t achieve commercial acclaim until 1952 when he released three hit songs.  During the “Blues Boom” of the 1960s, he moved to Europe and, in 1970, settled in Finland, marrying there in 1980. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

What becomes the Cleveland Post Office opens as Fontaine in 1884. More information available @wikipedia.org.

November 27

Evelyn Preer, African American stage and screen actress and accomplished blues singer, dies in 1932. Known within the black community as “the First Lady of the Screen,” she was the first black actress to receive notoriety and popularity with both blacks and whites because of the fact that she would not accept roles that belittled African Americans.  In 1920, she joined the Lafayette Players, a theatrical stock company, later gaining more recognition for David Belasco’s production of Lulu Belle in 1926 and Somerset Maugham’s Rain in 1928.  More info available @aaregistry.org.

November 28

James Oliver Eastland, a Mississippi Congressman who served in the US Senate from 1941 to 1978, is born in Doddsville, MS in 1904. He was the most senior member of the Senate at the time of his retirement and compiled a conservative record, opposing the civil rights movement and accusing New York Times employees of affiliation with the Communist Party because of their strong position that Mississippi should adhere to the Brown decision. More information available @senate.gov.

Richard Wright, an African American author born on the Rucker Plantation in Roxie, MS, dies in 1960. Much of his literature concerns racial themes, especially those involving the plight of African Americans during the 19th century. Some of his novels include Black Boy (1945), The Outsiders (1953), Savage Holiday (1954), The Long Dream (1958), and American Hunger (1977). He became a French citizen in 1947 and died on November 28, 1960.  More information available @wikipedia.org & @olemiss.edu.

November 29

Willie Morris, author, is born in Jackson, MS in 1934. He immortalized Yazoo City in his prose utilizing a unique lyrical style and reflections on the American South, particularly the Mississippi Delta. In 1967, he became the youngest editor of Harper’s Magazine, and in 1980, he returned to his home state to become a writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi. In 2000, his book My Dog Skip was made into a movie. He is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City, exactly 13 steps from the “grave” of the fictitious Witch of Yazoo, a character from one of Morris’s books. More information available @wikipedia.org.

November 30

Mark Twain is born in Florida, MO in 1835. Best known for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain grew up in Hannibal, MO, a frontier setting that provided much of the inspiration for his later novels. He is lauded as the “greatest American humorist of his age” and even the “father of American literature” by William Faulkner. More info @cmgww.com.

Mike Espy, the first African American to be Secretary of Agriculture and former US Congressman, is born in Yazoo City, MS in 1953. In December 1997, Tyson Foods pleaded guilty to giving Espy more than $12,000 in illegal gifts. Espy has never been formally convicted of any charges. More information available @mikespy.com.

Margaret Walker Alexander, an African American poet and writer, dies in 1998. After receiving her doctorate from the University of Iowa, she began work with the Federal Writers’ Project under the Roosevelt’s WPA in 1936. While teaching at Jackson State University from 1947 to 1979, she wrote the critically acclaimed novel, Jubilee. She is also well known for poem, For My People. She died of breast cancer in Chicago in 1998. More info available @olemiss.edu & @mswritersandmusicians.com.

 

December

December 1

Rosa Parks is jailed in 1955 Montgomery, AL for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws. This individual act of civil disobedience created further impact by sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. More information available @thehenryford.org & @nytimes.com.

December 2

President James Monroe proclaims a new US foreign policy initiative in 1823 that becomes known as the Monroe Doctrine. It stated that further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring US intervention. Despite its intention to simply maintain the sovereignty of Latin nations in order to ensure US national security, this policy was invoked by many later US presidents including JFK and Ronald Reagan. More information available @ourdocuments.gov.

“You Send Me,” Sam Cooke’s third single, becomes the #1 song in the country in 1957. More information available @rockhall.com.

December 3

Elmer Otis Kimball (white) murders Clinton Melton (black) in cold blood in 1955 after accusing Melton of pumping too much gas into his car in Glendora, MS. Kimball was found not guilty shortly after. More info available @soc.umn.edu.

Mary Alice Smith, an African American actress, is born in Indianola, MS in 1941. She received a Tony for her work in Fences and an Emmy Award for her work in I’ll Fly Away. She also played the Oracle in the film, The Matrix Revolutions. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 4

Thomas Edison invents the phonograph in 1877. The invention that first gained him notice, the phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder but had poor sound quality. Alexander Graham Bell would redesign his model in the 1880s.Various versions of the phonograph were used as late as the 1980s More information available @memory.loc.gov.

December 5

Dave “Boo” Ferriss, DSU coach and Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame member, is born in Shaw, MS in 1921. The first baseball player to receive a scholarship to Mississippi State University, he was drafted by the Red Sox as a pitcher in 1945 and went on to set the American League record for scoreless innings to start a career with 22. Returning to Delta State University to coach, he guided the team to a 639-387 record before retiring in 1988. The baseball field at Delta State University is named in his honor.  More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

Sonny Boy Williamson II, a blues harmonica virtuoso, is born as Aleck “Rice” Miller in Glendora, MS in 1899. He is associated with Checker Records and post-war blues and died in 1965. More info available @bluesharp.ca & @wikipedia.org.

The 21st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States repeals the 18th Amendment, ending Prohibition in 1933. While passage of the 18th Amendment had been the crowning achievement of the temperance movement, it soon had proved highly unpopular. Crime rates had soared under Prohibition as gangsters made millions of dollars on illegal alcohol sales. More information available @wikipedia.org.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott begins in 1955. Planned by martin Luther King, Jr., the boycott was a protest against Montgomery’s policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. The campaign lasted from Rosa Park’s arrest until the federal ruling, Bowder v. Gayle, took effect in December of 1956. More information available @montgomeryboycott.com.

December 6

William Hodding Carter II, a writer associated with Greenville, MS, is nominated to the Mississippi Hall of Fame in 1996. Born in Hammond, LA, he is best known for the Pulitzer Prize he won in 1946 for his editorials that lambasted the ill-treatment Japanese American soldiers received upon returning from WWII. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com.

December 7

The Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor in 1941. A surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy, the attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the US Pacific Fleet from interfering with military actions the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia. The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters; domestic support for isolationism evaporated. More information available @history.navy.mil & wikipedia.org.

“Mississippi” Charles Bevel, a blues composer, is born in Swiftown, Leflore County, MS in 1938. His professional career as a musician lasted from 1973 to 1983, and he primarily performed as a duo with Chic Streetman. Beginning in 1986, he got into theater and has subsequently acted, written, and composed for various productions. His play, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, was nominated for four Tony Awards in 1999. More information available @blackradiodays.com.

Johnnie Dyer, an electric blues harmonicist and singer, is born in Rolling Fork, MS in 1938. He has received a nomination for a Blues Music Award and has been involved in a number of recordings in the last three decades as both a group and solo performer. More information available @wikipedia.org & blindpigrecords.com.

The First Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, MS is organized in 1915. More information available @firstpresbyteriancleveland.com.

December 8

Jerry Butler, often called the “Ice Man” because of his cool voice and lyrics, is born in Sunflower, MS in 1936. A soul singer and songwriter, Butler is noted as being the original leader singer of The Impressions and a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Since the 1980s, he has continued to perform while serving as Cook County Board Commissioner in Illinois. More information available @allmusic.com & @wikipedia.org.

Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin, is born in Westboro, MA in 1765. His cotton gin was one of the key inventions of the Industrial revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South. His inception of interchangeable parts into the manufacturing and weapons industries proved profitable for him and invaluable for consumers. More information available @eliwhitney.org & @wikipedia.org.

Big Walter Horton, a blues harmonica player from Horn Lake, MS, dies in Chicago in 1981. His earliest recordings were in the late 1920s with the Memphis Jug Band, but his first notable recordings were for Sam Phillips at Sun Records in the early 1950s. Playing with Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, and Fleetwood Mac at different points in his life, he died from heart failure in 1981 at the age of 64. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1982. More information available @cascadeblues.org.

December 9

Archie Moore, the only boxer to have fought both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali, dies in 1998. Born in Benoit, MS in 1916, he was a light heavyweight world boxing champion who had one of the longest professional careers in the history of the sport. When his boxing career came to a conclusion, he became involved in African American causes and established himself as a successful character actor in television and film. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 10

Early “Soul Man” Wright, a legendary radio personality on Clarksdale’s WROX, dies in Memphis in 1999 at the age of 84. His career spanned more than half a century. More information available @msbluestrail.org.

Mississippi enters the Union as the 20th state in 1817. More information available @mshistory.k12.ms.us.

December 11

Sam Cooke is shot to death in 1964 during a confrontation with a hotel manager in Los Angeles. The courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed and that the manager had killed a Cooke in a “justifiable homicide.” The events of the murder have later been called into question because of a myriad of circumstantial evidence. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 12

Ike Turner, the “Father of Rock n’ Roll, dies in 2007. His first recording, “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats is considered by many to be the first “rock and roll song” because of the distortion heard on the track’s guitars. He is best known, however, for his work with Tina Turner. Winning two Grammy Awards during his lifetime, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. More information available @nytimes.com.

The USS Cairo is sunk in 1862 by underwater Confederate mines just north of Vicksburg in the Yazoo River. The Cairo had been instrumental in blockading Fort Billow until its abandonment by Confederate soldiers and in a naval battle near Memphis, TN that ended in defeat for Confederate gunboats. She was the first ship sunk by an electrically detonated mine. More information available @nps.gov.

December 13

Archie Moore, a light heavyweight world boxing champion, is born in Benoit, MS in 1913. The only boxer to have fought both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali, he had one of the longest professional careers in the history of the sport. When his boxing career came to a conclusion, he became involved in African American causes and established himself as a successful character actor in television and film. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 14

George Washington dies in 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1775-1783 and was the unanimous choice to serve as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. More information available @whitehouse.gov.

December 15

Rufus Thomas, a Stax recording artist, dies in Memphis, TN in 2001. Born in Cayce, MS in 1917, he was one of the long-standing personalities on WDIA in Memphis, one of the first radio stations in the US geared toward blacks; however, he is also known for his recording career in the 1960s and 1970s when he recorded numerous soul songs that made it in the Hot 100’s top 10. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001. More information available @seguerecords.com.

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments of the US Constitution, becomes law in 1791. Limiting the power of the US federal government, these limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty due to every human being, including freedoms of religion, speech, a free press, free assembly, and free association. Because the bill only included legal protection for white men, it took additional amendments and Supreme Court cases in subsequent decades to extend the same rights to all US citizens. More information available @archives.gov.

December 16

The first New Madrid Earthquake strikes in 1811. Consequently, the course of the Mississippi River was changed, portions of the land sank, and new lakes were created.  More info available @geology.siu.edu.

December 17

Archie Moore becomes the world light heavyweight boxing champion when he defeats Joey Maxim in 15 rounds in St. Louis, MO in 1952. Born in Benoit MS in 1913, he is the only boxer to have fought both Rocky Marciano and Muhammad Ali and had one of the longest professional careers in the history of the sport. When his boxing career came to a conclusion, he became involved in African American causes and established himself as a successful character actor in television and film. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 18

Elia Kazan’s Southern Gothic film, Baby Doll, is released in 1956. Filmed in Benoit, MS, the film was adapted by Tennessee Williams from his play, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. The National Legion of Decency attempted to have the film banned for its controversial material, but the film received five Golden Globe awards and four Academy awards. More info available @wikipedia.org & @filmsite.org.

The 13th Amendment is formally adopted in 1865, ensuring that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the US or any place subject to its jurisdiction.” More information available @loc.gov.

December 19

Milt Hinton, MS Musician Hall of Fame inductee and jazz great, dies in 2000. Born in Vicksburg, MS in 1910, he was known as “The Judge” and the “Dean of Jazz Bass Players” and played the double bass in addition to being a photographer.  During his career, he took several pictures that documented the careers of other well know jazz musicians.  More info @milthinton.com.

Stew Cliburn, DSU alumnus and former Californian Angel, is born in Jackson, MS in 1956. After playing four seasons with the Angels, he became a pitching coach for two Minor League teams. More information available @sportspool.com.

December 20

Earl Van Dorn, a Confederate General, thwarts Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s first attempt to capture Vicksburg in 1862 when Van Dorn attacks Grant’s supplies at Holly Springs. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 21

The African American spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” is written in 1840 by Wallace Willis, a black slave from a Choctaw Indian Reservation. In 2002, the Library of Congress honored the song as one of 50 recordings that year to be added to the National Recording Registry. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 22

Jimmy Patton, NY Giants player and MS Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, dies in 1972. Born in Greenville, MS in 1972, he played for Ole Miss in college and was drafted in the eighth round of the 1955 NFL Draft. He was a five-time Pro Bowler. More information available @databasefootball.com.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is released by Joel and Ethan Coen in 2000. It was largely filmed in the Mississippi Delta. The film is set in 1937 rural Mississippi during the Great Depression and is a modern satire loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 23

Donna Tartt, author of The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2002), is born in Greenwood, MS in 1963. Her works also include short stories that she has had published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Weekly, GQ, and The Guardian. More information available  @olemiss.edu.

The Kate Adams No. 1, a steamboat carrying mail between Memphis and Greenville, burns in 1888. The New York Times reports, “The steamer Kate Adams, the faster and finest boat of her type on the Mississippi, was burned to the water’s edge this morning near the little town of Commerce. Twenty-three persons, a great majority of them colored, were drowned or died from exposure.” More information available @nytimes.com.

December 26

Mary Holmes College, a school dedicated to the Christian education of black girls, is founded in Jackson, MS in 1892. The school closed its doors on March 3, 2005 after over 100 years of offering opportunities in the fields of religion, education, law, and medicine. More information available @hbuconnect.com.

December 28

Bo Diddley is born in McComb, MS in 1928. Born Otha Ellas Bates on December 28, 1928, Diddley was a key player in the transition from blues to rock & roll, influencing such artists as Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, and Eric Clapton. He was known in particular for his technical innovations, including his trademark rectangular guitar, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. More info available @bo-diddley.com & @rockhall.com.

Pops Staples, a Gospel and R&B musician, is born as Rosebuck Staples in Winona, MS in 1914. Growing up at Dockery Farms, he formed the Staple Singers in 1948 as a gospel group in local churches. He went on to become a pivotal figure in gospel in the 1960s and 70s and led a solo career that brought him a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. In 1999, the Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. More information available @mswritersandmusicians.com & popsstaples.com.

America celebrates its first Labor Day in 1869. A creation of the labor movement that is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers, Labor Day is currently celebrated on the first Monday in September. More information available @dol.gov.

December 29

The first Bolivar County Post Office is established in town of Bolivar, MS in 1833. More information available @mississippi.hometownlocator.com.

Matt Murphy, blues guitarist and original member of The Blues Brothers, is born in Sunflower, MS in 1927. He played with Howlin’ Wolf as early as 1948 and continued to do so until leaving the band with Little Junior Parker to form The Blue Flames. Because of Murphy’s intricate and fast blues riffs, he gained a reputation that brought him to perform with Muddy Waters, Ike Turner, Memphis Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson II, and Chuck Berry. More information available @allmusic.com & wikipedia.org.

The Battle of Chickasaw Bayou occurs in 1862 as part of Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s attempt to capture Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River. More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 30

Lily Margaret Wade, a DSU Basketball Coach and MS Hall of Fame Inductee, is born in McCool, MS in 1912. After coaching the Cleveland High School basketball team for 25 seasons with a 453-89-6 record, she took a coaching position at Delta State in 1973 to restart their women’s basketball team, going on to win three consecutive national championships at the AIAW Women’s Basketball Tournament. She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985 and into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999. More information available @gostatesmen.com.

Willie Brown, one of the founders of the Delta Blues, dies in 1952. A guitarist and singer from Clarksdale, MS, Brown was born in 1900. He accompanied such musicians as Charley Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson.  More information available @wikipedia.org.

December 31

Tallahatchie County is created in 1833. A Choctaw name meaning “rock of waters,” Tallahatchie is one of ten in Mississippi with two county seats: Charleston and Sumner. More information available @rootsweb.ancestry.com.

Bluesville Nightclub opens at Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, MS in 1998. More information available @horseshoetunica.com.

Willye B. White, the first American track and field athlete to compete in five Olympics from 1956 to 1972. Born in Money, MS in 1939, she was America’s best female long jumper of the time and won silver medals at the 1956 and 1964 games. Having competed on more than 30 international track and field teams and been inducted into eleven Halls of Fame, she credited her experience as an athlete with allowing her to see beyond the racism and hatred that surrounded her as a child picking cotton in Mississippi. More information available @nytimes.com.