African American Heritage Guide Tour Sites:
Freedman’s Savings Bank: Housed the Freedmen’s Savings Bank during Reconstruction. The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company (often called the Freedman’s Bank) was created to assist newly freed slaves and African American soldiers at the end of the Civil War. The bank failed in 1874 and many depositors lost their savings, but the records of the bank remain.
Bethel AME Church: The first African American Methodist Episcopal Church and the first Masonic Lodge in Mississippi were organized here in 1875. In 1890, Campbell College, the first African American College in Mississippi established without the aid of whites, operated out of a building behind Bethel. Moving in 1897, it was absorbed by Jackson State University.
Beulah Cemetery: The only African American cemetery in the city was established by the Vicksburg Tabernacle #19 Independent Order of Brothers and Sisters of Love and Charity around 1884. There are more than 5,500 graves scattered across the grassy tree-studded cemetery, which dates from 1884 to the 1940s.
HV McIntyre School: McIntyre School (or Cherry Street School) was built on the site of the former Cherry Street school (1886 – 1939) as a W.P.A. project in 1939 and named for G. M. McIntyre, a former teacher, and principal of Cherry Street School, Assistant Cashier of Union Savings Bank, and a member of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Vicksburg.
Jackson Street Missionary Baptist Church: The largest African American church in the state when completed in 1905; built by an African American contractor, E.J. Allen.
Lucy C Jefferson Jr. High School: Jefferson Jr. High School was the African American junior high school prior to integration.
King Solomon Baptist Church: Gothic Revival-style church was founded by King Solomon as a mission in 1859. Under the name of Mount Pleasant Baptist Association. Built in 1886 and predates the Civil War.
Pleasant Green M.B. Church: Two-story brick Romanesque Revival-style church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in the summer of 1964.
Rosa A Temple High School: In 1959, Rosa A. Temple High School, named in honor of a beloved long-time school teacher, was built for African Americans. Noted for its academics and athletics, Rosa A. Temple High School became one of the most prestigious high schools in Mississippi. The school was the last officially segregated high school in Vicksburg until 1971 when Vicksburg schools were desegregated.
Wesley United Methodist Church: Wesley’s first building was given to the slaves of the white Methodist congregation in 1858. The present building was the home of Vicksburg’s first Civil Rights organization.
Red Dot Store: Also known as the Alma Cash Grocery, this store is the site where many of the groups working in the Civil Rights Movement met for planning. African Americans and whites interested in the advancement of Civil Rights attended freedom schools and used the freedom library here.
Etta O’Neal Library: The Etta O’Neal branch of the Vicksburg Library was opened on July 16, 1955, as a library for African American citizens. Today this building houses the We Care Community Center.
Jackson Street YMCA: By the benevolence of Mrs. Fanny Johnson who donated the property and Mrs. Junius Ward who provided funds, this $50,000 two-story red brick building was constructed for the Vicksburg African American Community and opened in 1924. The YMCA served the African American community through the early 1990s and was demolished in 1995 and replaced with a community center at the same location.
Mt. Heroden Baptist Church: Mount Heroden Baptist Church was organized in 1869 by Rev. G. G. Middleton. The church was remodeled in 1930 when the Rev. E. L. Twine was pastor. Medgar Evers and Myrlie Beasley were married here on December 24, 1951.
The Blue Room: One of the most storied night spots in the South, the Blue Room, which stood across the street at 602 Clay Street, was operated for more than thirty years by flamboyant owner Tom Wince. Ray Charles, Fats Domino, B. B. King, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Little Milton were among the many stars who played here. In the 1940s and ’50s, Wince was the most essential blues promoter in Mississippi, booking bands through a network of nightclubs and halls across the state and in Louisiana.
Marcus Bottom: The historic African American community of Marcus Bottom was an important center of early blues, jazz, and gospel music activity. Pianist Eurreal “Little Brother” Montgomery, one of the premier blues artists of the 1920s and 30s, performed here and in other areas of Vicksburg. His song “Vicksburg Blues” became a blues standard and has been recorded by many other performers. Famed blues composer Willie Dixon, a Vicksburg native, was particularly inspired by Montgomery’s music.
Jefferson Funeral Home: Their legacy of care for and about Vicksburg began over a century ago with founders, William Henry and Lucy Jefferson. Grandfather Jefferson was the first African-American funeral director in the state of Mississippi, while Grandmother Jefferson was a leader in education. Both fought hard to make Vicksburg and Warren County a wonderful place for all its citizens.
Jacqueline House African American Museum: With over 20,000 historical artifacts dating as far back as the days of slavery, the Jacqueline House Museum is a treasure trove of African-American heritage.
Catfish Row Museum: The Catfish Row Museum is located in the Christian and Brough Building in downtown Vicksburg. Constructed in 1905, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Mississippi Landmark. The building itself tells the story of Vicksburg as the site of carriage manufacturing, and blacksmithing, and as an early automobile dealership for Packards and Studebakers. It was also the Monte Carlo Club, a venue for nationally acclaimed blues and R&B acts throughout the 1970s and 1980s. The building features the museum and exhibit galleries, and spaces for special events.
Myrlie Louise Beasley Evers-Williams Birth Home: This is the site of Dr. Myrlie Evers-William’s birth home. Born on March 17th, 1933 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams is a civil rights activist and journalist known for her ongoing community activism, and resilient pursuit of justice following the murder of her late husband, Medgar Evers.
African American Heritage Site Points of Interest:
Alcorn State University: About an hour south of Vicksburg is Alcorn State University, the first and oldest running black land grant college in the United States.
Vicksburg Blues Trail Markers: The South is the birthplace of the blues, and Mississippi played a large role in the genre’s development. To honor this rich musical heritage, The Mississippi Blues Foundation created the Mississippi Blues Trail with a series of markers that commemorate significant people, places, and more.
Catfish Row: Catfish Row is a historic area that once was part of an extensive wharf in the 1800s and was one of the centers of trade on the Mississippi River. As new ports were built elsewhere, and river traffic declined, this riverfront area became little used and was a dumping site for refuse.
Kuhn Memorial Civil Rights Park: The Civil Rights Park is on the site of the former Kuhn Memorial Hospital on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard. It is a recreational park, which honors trailblazers that contributed to the Civil Rights movement in the local community.
Margaret’s Grocery: Located north of downtown Vicksburg on old Highway 61, Margaret’s Grocery is a unique vernacular art environment created by Reverend H.D. Dennis. Margaret Rogers Dennis ran the former country store for years. When she met and married Reverend Dennis in the early 1980s, he promised her that he would transform her simple store into a place that the world would come to see. Although the site is no longer open as a store, the Grocery has attracted visitors from around the world to experience Reverend Dennis’ creation.
Old Baptist Association: Also known as the Vicksburg Baptist Academy, they provided quality education for African Americans as well as religious training. The building became the center for Civil Rights activities in the summer of 1964. The building was bombed on October 4, 1964.
Vicksburg National Military Park African American Monument: The African-American Monument is located on the south side of Grant Avenue between mileposts 4.3 and 4.4. Erected by the State of Mississippi at a cost of $300,000, including $25,000 contributed by the City of Vicksburg, the sculpture is the work of Dr. Kim Sessums, from Brookhaven, Mississippi. The monument consists of three bronze figures on a base of black African granite — two black Union soldiers, and a field hand. The field hand and one soldier support between them the second soldier, who is wounded and represents the sacrifice in blood made by black soldiers on the field of battle during the Civil War. The field hand looks behind at a past of slavery, while the first soldier gazes toward a future of freedom secured by force of arms on the field of battle.
Vicksburg National Military Park National Cemetery- USCT Section: The Vicksburg National Cemetery is the nation’s largest Civil War cemetery, and the 7,240 United States Colored Troops (USCT) among the 17,500 graves there constitute the largest number of Black soldiers buried anywhere in the United States.
Vicksburg City Hall: For sixteen years, it housed the offices of Alderman Melvin E. Redmond, Sr., the first African American to hold an elected office in Vicksburg since Reconstruction. In 1988, Robert M. Walker set up his office here as the first elected African American Mayor.
Vicksburg Civil War Museum: The museum features millions of Civil War artifacts acquired by museum owner Mr. Charles Pendleton. The museum is located in the former Corner Drug Store.
Download the full brochure here: Vicksburg African American Heritage Tour