Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Mississippi Manifest Destiny: Mound Bayou, a town founded by freed slaves

At the recommendation of Levois of It's My Mind, I veered a few miles east of Highway 61 onto the Route 161 cutoff to see Mound Bayou, the oldest black municipality in the United States.

From Mound

On July 12, 1887, the city of Mound Bayou, Mississippi was founded by Isaiah T. Montgomery and his cousin, Benjamin T. Green, former slaves of Joseph Emory Davis. Mound Bayou is situated halfway between Vicksburg, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee off of Highway 61. Mound Bayou remains the oldest bastion of Black municipal government in the South.

Isaiah T. Montgomery and Benjamin T. Green had as their dream since before the Civil War to found the Largest U.S. Negro Town. Montgomery and Green founded Mound Bayou to serve as a sanctuary for African-American families and culture. Throughout the years, Mound Bayou has continued its long tradition of community self-empowerment that has produced numerous African American leaders, innovators, and proud family lineages. Mound Bayou has always been a model city for the capabilities of African-Americans to rise above inequality in the South. The town has never practiced or experienced segregation within its borders. Mound Bayou is a town without second class citizens.

Joseph Emory Davis was the brother of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. Mound Bayou is not a properous town, but there is a sense of community there--the place just seems to hang together in its own fashion.

Marlo Carter Fitzpatrick, in her book Mississippi Off The Beaten Path, has this to say about the town:

A favorite stop in Mound Bayou is Peter's Pottery. Peter Woods and his three brothers learned the fine art of pottery from the master at McCarty Pottery in Merigold (the next town down the road). The Woods Brothers left McCarty in 1998 with plans to pursue new careers, but soon they realized clay was in their blood. Together they established Peter's Pottery, the place to find animals, candlesticks, dinnerware, crosses, and vases crafted of Mississippi clay and finished with the brother's exclusive glaze, Bayou Blue. Peter's pottery is collected worldwide; President Bush is the proud owner of a Bayou Blue elephant.

Next: Clarksdale

Previous My Mississippi Manifest Destiny posts:

What Mike Espy is up to these days
Teddy Bear
Coca-Cola museums
Prison laborer in Louisiana
Natchez Part Three
Natchez Part Two, Forks of the Road
Natchez Part One
The Father of Waters
The Natchez Trace Part Four, Ghost Town
The Natchez Trace Part Three
The Natchez Trace Part Two, Indian Mounds
The Natchez Trace Part One
$aving$ in Tupelo
Where Elvis bought his first guitar
Elvis Presley's birthplace
The Battle of Tupelo
Shiloh Part Four
Shiloh Part Three
Shiloh Part Two
Shiloh Part One
Carl Perkins
The Varsity Theatre in Martin, Tennessee
Lincoln and Kentucky

Vicksburg-related posts:

Vicksburg Battlefield Part Five
Vicksburg Battlefield, Part Four, The USS Cairo
Vicksburg Battlefield, Part Three, Illinois Memorial
Mississippi River at Vicksburg
Vicksburg Battlefield, Part Two, State Memorials
Vicksburg Battlefield, Part One
Jewish Mississippi
Memorial Day tribute to our ally Australia
Memorial Day--a time to remember

Leland posts:

Highway 61 Blues Museum
Leland's Blues Murals
Birthplace of Kermit the Frog

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1 comment:

Levois said...

I think I actually went to the Woods' place and checked out their shop. I would have had no idea that pottery was being made in that small town.