Mississippi in Black and White, 1865–1941

The road to Reconstruction for the South remained clouded by wounds of war and competing plans for the future. The federal policy called Reconstruction intended to rebuild the Southern states and bring them back into the Union. Black Mississippians emerged from slavery with their first hopeful glimpses of freedom. They eagerly built communities with businesses, schools, and churches. They voted and won election to office. But freedom was fragile. By the turn of the century, Jim Crow laws disenfranchised African Americans, eliminated equality under the law, and ushered in segregation.

From the Gallery

Explore artifacts, photos, and documents featured in the Mississippi in Black and White gallery.

Timeline: 1865–1910

Remember Their Names

From 1882 to 1970 more than 500 men and women were lynched in Mississippi. Five monoliths in this gallery are inscribed with 445 names and alleged "crimes" to bear witness to the violence White people employed to maintain White supremacy at the start of the Jim Crow Era. 

William H. Foote

Male, Yazoo City, Interfering With a Lynching

Lynched on December 29, 1883. He was shot to death for protecting another man from attack. 

Video Tour

Points of Light

The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi is full of ordinary men and women who refused to sit silently while their brothers and sisters were denied their basic freedoms. A number of these heroes are featured throughout the museum as Points of Light, shining exemplars of dignity, strength, and perseverance in the face of oppression.

James D. Lynch

Reverend James D. Lynch

A native of Baltimore, Rev. James D. Lynch served as a missionary for the A.M.E. Church in South Carolina and Georgia during the war, helping to establish Black schools and churches. In 1868, he brought his missionary work to Mississippi, but soon realized that political rights were also critical to Black freedmen. Lynch became one of the founders of Mississippi’s Republican Party and served as its first vice president. In 1869, he won election as Mississippi Secretary of State, the first African American to hold that office. After leaving office in 1870, Lynch helped to establish Shaw University, now Rust College, in Holly Springs.

John Roy Lynch - Thomas and Joan Gandy Photographic Collection, Mss. 3778, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collection, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA

Representative John Roy Lynch

The child of a slave mother and Irish plantation manager father in Vidalia, Louisiana, John R. Lynch and his mother were sold to a Natchez planter after his father’s death. A self-educated man, Lynch operated a photography studio and became active in the Republican Party after the Civil War. Governor Adelbert Ames appointed him justice of the peace in 1869. The same year, he won election to the state legislature, later serving as Speaker of the House. In 1873, he won election to the US House of Representatives. In Congress, Lynch argued for the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which banned discrimination in public accommodations. He served three terms, overcoming voter intimidation and vote tampering by his Democratic opponents. In 1913, he published Facts of Reconstruction to refute the Lost Cause narrative of the period.

Explore Mississippi

Many of the homes, colleges, and historic sites discussed in this gallery still exist today. Journey beyond the museum walls and explore the places where history happened.

William Johnson House

William Johnson HouseExplores the lives of free African Americans in the pre-Civil War South

210 State Street
Natchez, Mississippi 

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Ida B. Wells Museum

Ida B. Wells MuseumFeatures a collection of artifacts belonging to journalist, suffragist, and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells

220 North Randolph Street
Holly Springs, Mississippi 

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