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. 

Samuel Gillespie

Male, De Soto, Interfering With An Arrest

Lynched in Clarke County in 1891 for “race prejudice.”

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.

Senator Hiram Revels - Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-cwpbh-03275

Senator Hiram Revels

Born free in North Carolina, Hiram Revels committed his life to education, church, and community. During the Civil War, Revels organized two Black regiments in Maryland, and founded a freedmen's school in St. Louis. An ordained minister, Revels followed the Union Army to Jackson, where he lectured and organized Black churches and schools. Moving to Vicksburg in 1864, he served as chaplain of a Black regiment and minister of the Bethel A.M.E. Church. He also assisted the provost marshal of the Freedmen’s Bureau. In 1866, Revels became pastor at Zion A.M.E. Church in Natchez. There, he was appointed alderman before winning a seat in the state senate in 1869. A year later, his colleagues in the Mississippi legislature elected him as the first African American US senator in the nation’s history.

Richard Wright - Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USW3-030283-D

Richard Wright

Richard Wright spent a lifetime writing against racism. The son of a Natchez sharecropper and a high school teacher, Wright grew up in Adams County and Jackson, before moving to Chicago in the 1920s. In Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) and Native Son (1940), he gave voice to the experience of American racism. In Black Boy (1945), he wrote about his personal encounters with racism. Wright joined the Communist Party in Chicago, but, finding no answers, discontinued his associated after 10 years. In 1958, his last novel—The Long Dream—returned to the theme of racism. 

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.

Alcorn State University

Alcorn State UniversityAlcorn State University is the oldest public historically black land-grant institution in the United States and the second-oldest state-supported institution of higher learning in Mississippi. It was founded in 1871 to educate the descendants of formerly enslaved Mississippians.

1000 Alcorn Avenue
Lorman, Mississippi

Visit Website

The Piney Woods School

The Piney Woods SchoolFounded by Laurence C. Jones in 1909, it is the largest, independent African American boarding school in the United States.

5096 US Highway 49
Piney Woods, Mississippi

Visit Website