Natchez Civil Rights Movement - 1965 - Pivotal Year
The National Guard patrolled St. Catherine Street on September 3, 1965, not long after the August 27 bombing that nearly killed George Metcalfe, president of the local chapter of the Natchez Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Governor Paul Johnson sent 650 National Guardsmen to Natchez after the city rejected a list of demands submitted by the NAACP in the wake of the bombing.
This paradigm of economic boycotts supported by paramilitary organization was first utilized in 1965 in Natchez... The insurgent model of Natchez was replicated throughout the state...
Akinyele O. Umoja, "We Will Shoot Back," Journal of Black Studies, January 2002
On September 30 the city obtained an injunction against demonstrations. Over the next several days more than 500 demonstrators were arrested and the City Auditorium (above, became a temporary detention center. About half were bused to Parchman Penitentiary where the received cruel treatment at the hands of the warden.
After the U. S. District Court lifted the injunction against protest marches on October 6, the city witnessed the largest march of its Civil Rights Movement. About twelve hundred marchers filled the streets of downtown Natchez. They marched quietly and orderly to the Adams County Courthouse (above). Klansmen often stood on the street corners
With the exception of Charles Evers...the Natchez civil rights struggle--considered by some historians as the most successful of the Mississippi movements--was led by hardworking, regular men and women from the local black community. They organized demonstrations, an economic boycott, and countered the Klan violence, and the lack of police protection by arming themselves.
Vern Smith, “Ghosts of Mississippi.” The Defenders Online, March 4, 2011.
The [newspaper] article was directed at the cowards who placed hoods over their faces and killed, bombed, beat, intimidated, and distributed libelous filth under the cover of darkness. Forrest A. Johnson, Sr. (white attorney and publisher), Miss-Lou Observer, March 31, 1965.
During a march up Franklin Street on October 30, notorious . Klansman Jack Seale (above right) of neighboring Franklin County stood on a street corner in paramilitary clothing to try to intimidate marchers.
Both Jack and his brother James Ford Seale were implicated in murders and bombings in Southwest Mississippi. FBI records document that Jack Seale became a paid informant in 1967. His brother died in prison in 2011 after being convicted in 2007 of the 1964 kidnapping of two black teenagers who were murdered.
A young man holds a sign (above) on the 700 block of Franklin Street in early December 1965. At a meeting at Zion Chapel A.M.E. Church, activist Bill Ware called for a Christmas boycott against white merchants. This boycott and the demonstrations of 1965 resulted in the city and local businesses conceding to virtually all of the NAACP demands. The city formally conceded on December 3, 1965.
Whereas virtually every other local campaign had ended in failure during the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, the Natchez project had mobilized an entire community and exacted sweeping concessions from the white establishment--without federal intervention... The Natchez campaign was the single greatest community victory for the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi...
Lance Hill, The Deacons for Defense, 2004
Erected by City of Natchez.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Natchez Trails marker series.
Location. 31° 33.421′ N, 91° 23.385′ W. Marker is in Natchez, Mississippi, in Adams County. Marker is on St. Catherine Street 0.1 miles west of McCabe Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Natchez MS 39120, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 156-166 St. Catherine Street (within shouting distance of this marker); St. Catherine Street - John Nosser and Nosser City (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Wheaton-McGuire House - 125 St. Catherine Street (about 400 feet away); Papa Lightfoot & The Natchez Blues (about 400 feet away); Smart-Griffin-Angelety House - 180 St. Catherine Street (about 500 feet away); Music on St. Catherine Street (about 500 feet away); John R. Lynch - St. Catherine Street Land Speculator (about 700 feet away); Louis J. Winston - St. Catherine Entrepreneur (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Natchez.
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on March 30, 2018, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 81 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 5, 2018.