Tupelo in Lee County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
The Dixie Belle Theater / The March of Discontent
— Heritage Trails Enrichment Program —
The rights of African-Americans during Reconstruction were greatly increased, and passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the U. S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Acts of 1875 seemed to promise more gains. However, the Supreme Court's ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 paved the way for Jim Crow laws, a series of anti-black laws enacted primarily, but not exclusively, in Southern and border states from the late 1800s to the mid-1960s. These laws allowed races to be kept separate with separate schools, hotels, restrooms, parks, libraries, restaurants and theaters. "Whites Only" or "Colored" signs were posted at entrances, exits, waiting rooms and water fountains. Tupelo's 300-seat Dixie Belle Theater located just west of here at 407 Spring Street, operated exclusively for African-Americans from 1950 to 1955 and served an important role in the community. Many an adult and child enjoyed escaping to watch movies of the times. As part of the social center for the black community on Green Street, touring blues, jazz and R&B acts also performed at the Dixie
In 1964, marching black citizens and Tupelo police confronted each other here, at this property that housed the Royal Crown Cola Bottling Plant. The Tupelo Civic Improvement Club, the precursor in Tupelo to the NAACP, was a body of black citizens working to gain more rights for the African-American community by addressing issues such as increasing voter registration, integration of public schools and minority hiring. They held meetings throughout the black community. At a meeting at the Henry Hampton Elks Lodge of Tupelo, the capacity crowd decided to march downtown to air their grievances. This was named the "March of Discontent." Citizens along the way joined be group as they made their way past black businesses in the Green street business district - businesses like Debro's Café, Pig Foot and the Lamplighter Inn. As they marched down North Spring Street they approached a police barricade near the RC Cola Plant. A disturbance erupted and several windows in the RC Cola plant were broken out. The police demanded the crowd disband, and while they refused, they did turn around and march back toward the Elks Lodge. After the march, a curfew was enacted and many areas in the African-American community were blocked off.
Erected 2014 by the Tupelo Convention and Visitors
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Civil Rights. A significant historical year for this entry is 1875.
Location. 34° 15.706′ N, 88° 42.267′ W. Marker is in Tupelo, Mississippi, in Lee County. Marker is at the intersection of West Franklin Street and North Spring Street, on the right when traveling west on West Franklin Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 108 West Franklin Street, Tupelo MS 38804, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Younger Cabin / Confederate Headquarters (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lee County Courthouse (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lee County, Mississippi War Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Tupelo Woman's Christian Temperance Union (approx. ¼ mile away); Tupelo Confederate Soldiers Monument (approx. ¼ mile away); Lyric Theatre (approx. ¼ mile away); The Lyric Theater (approx. ¼ mile away); First Presbyterian Church (USA) (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tupelo.
More about this marker. The March of Discontent marker is the fourth Civil Rights and African-American Heritage Trail maker in the Heritage Trails Enrichment Program.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 31, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 686 times since then and 88 times this year. Last updated on December 14, 2017. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 16, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.