Mississippi Blues Trail Marker
Summit Street was a thriving African American business district during the era of segregation, as well as a hotbed of musical activity. Blues, jazz, and rhythm & blues bands entertained at various nightclubs, cafes, and hotels, and many musicians lived nearby. After the coming of intergration in the 1960s, commerce in Summit Street and similar areas in other cities began to decline when much of the African American trade dispersed to other parts of town.
Summit Street, a historic center of African American culture, entertainment, and politics, was once a dirt road lined with dozens of businesses, including several cafes and clubs that featured blues music. During McComb’s turbulent 1960s, when bombs destroyed nearby homes and businesses, club owners who supported the civil rights movement were among those beaten and arrested. Four decades later, McComb elected a man who grew up on Summit Street, Zach Patterson, as its first African American mayor.
In the heyday of Summit Street, recalled local businessman Bennie Joseph, “People come from all over to McComb, from Chicago all the way to New Orleans, man. It was a wide open city. They had clubs, gambling, corn liquor, everything . . . Dancing, partying, drinking. Clubs, clubs, clubs . . . .” The Harlem Nightingale, which later
The McComb area’s impressive musical roster also includes Vasti Jackson, Robert “The Duke” Tillman, Larry Addison, Randy Williams, Fread Eugene Martin (aka Little Freddie King) and his father, Jesse James Martin, Zebedee Lee, Brandy Norwood, Omar Kent Dykes, Steve Blailock, Charlie Braxton, Ric E. Bluez, Reverend Charlie Jackson, Bernard “Bunny” Williams, Pete Allen, Chainsaw Dupont, Johnny Gilmore, Robert Rembert, John Lee Allen (“Tater Boy”), vocal group singers Prentiss Barnes of the Moonglows and Robert “Squirrel” Lester of the Chi-Lites, and Leon “Pop” Williams, founder of the Williams Brothers gospel group. The area was also an active center for blues pianists in the 1920s and ‘30s, according to piano legend Little Brother Montgomery, and McComb reportedly was at one time the home of early blues and gospel recording artists King Solomon Hill (Joe Holmes), Cryin’ Sam Collins, and the Graves brothers, Roosevelt and Uaroy.
content © Mississippi Blues Commission
Erected 2009 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 93.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 31° 15.305′ N, 90° 27.209′ W. Marker is in McComb, Mississippi, in Pike County. Marker is on Summit Street, on the right when traveling south. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Kewadin MI 49648, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within 13 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Pike County Courthouse (approx. 7.7 miles away); Jerry Clower (approx. 12.9 miles away).
Categories. • African Americans • Entertainment •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. This page has been viewed 407 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by Jeff Lovorn of Florence, Mississippi. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A photograph of the marker and the surrounding area in context. • Can you help?