Tupelo in Lee County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Shake Rag – A Way of Life / Shake Rag and Urban Renewal
Shake Rag, known for its music and influence on a young Elvis, was more than music to the people who lived there – it was a way of life. After emancipation, freed slaves moved into shanties around Gum Pond and several black communities, including Shake Rag, grew from there. Shake Rag was a self-contained community with stores, successful businesses and a few homeowners. First and Triplett Streets were most densely populated. Work was meager with most employed in the cotton compress, stockyards, railroad and L.P. McCarty Wholesale. Less fortunate worked as domestics or yar boys. The residents danced to the Saturday night sounds of juice harps, scrubboards, brooms and spoons into early Sunday morning hours until the tambourines and hallelujahs of the sanctified church brought them in to Rising Star MB Church. Former Shake Rag resident Reverend Robert Jamison explained, “Even though we stayed in a poverty-stricken area when I was growing up, you always had a friend. People would respect you Shake Rag. I wanted to get out of Shake Rag in the mind, but I never
For 50 years locals theorized that the Shake Rag community would someday burn from the dismal conditions of the structures built with faulty wiring and open fireplaces. It indeed burn in 1962, but not from poor construction. It was burned in the name of progress as part of one of the state’s first urban renewal projects. Nonetheless, it was a sad day for the 169 families, 60 individuals and 43 businesses that were relocated from the 60-acre tract. Shake Rag was home to them and the memories of family, church, and life in Shake Rag were all they had left of the beloved community. Congress launched the federal urban redevelopment program until Title I of the Housing Act of 1949. Some viewed it as a way of boosting sagging property values; others as a means to increase tax revenues; and still others hoped it would clear the slums and provide better living conditions for the poor.
Erected by Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: African Americans.
Location. 34° 15.554′ N, 88° 42.011′ W. Marker is in Tupelo, MississippiTouch for map. Marker is in this post office area: 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. Shake Rag Community (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Shake Rag (about 800 feet away); Elvis Presley and Tupelo (approx. 0.2 miles away); Tupelo Hardware (approx. ¼ mile away); The Iron Furnace / Front Street (approx. ¼ mile away); The Tupelo Swamp / Plank Road (approx. ¼ mile away); Lee County Courthouse (approx. ¼ mile away); Lee County, Mississippi War Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tupelo.
More about this marker. At the time this marker was entered into the database. It has been temporarily moved due to construction.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 28, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 23 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 28, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.