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The Standing on the Shoulders of Giants "Teach & Learn" Black History Curriculum​​

Specially designed for Parents, Teachers, Homeschool, or Independent Study, grades 5+

Where Black
History Lives!​

Unit 7: Post-Reconstruction (1877 – 1935)

Class 1: Mound Bayou: One of the First All-Black Towns Founded by Formerly Enslaved Blacks PART 1

Insipration Behind Mound Bayou cont.​​​

Bayou to take a leadership role in the Delta. Soliciting funds throughout the country, Montgomery also convinced the citizens of Mound Bayou to float over $100,000 worth of bonds for the construction of a modern high school. This school, finished in 1920, claimed the impressive title of the Mound Bayou Consolidated Public School and County Training School, though it was commonly known as the Bolivar County Training School.

The school was housed in a modern three story brick building with all of the latest improvements, held classes nine months a year, and sported a curriculum emphasizing "rural principles almost entirely." Probably one of the best Black high schools in the state, one observer claimed in 1929 that Mound Bayou had become the educational center of the Delta, Thus, despite adversity, Mound Bayou continued to strive for success.

The years of 1919 through 1922 spelled economic disaster for Mound Bayou. In 1919 the price of cotton had brought tremendous profits to many people, and speculation was rampant. The following year, seeing prices open at 85 cents per pound, many people held out for $1 per pound, only to see the market crash to a devastating 11 cents per pound. This crash reverberated throughout the Delta, throwing many into debt, and causing several suicides in the Merigold area. Though many Black farmers had made as much as $1900 the year previously, too many had been duped by white merchants into purchasing commodities for which they now could not pay. Those farmers who had purchased supplies on credit from these merchants were also in the same helpless situation. Thus, following the crash many merchants instituted foreclosure proceedings against their debtors, and thereby gained their land. By 1923 Black farmers in the Mound Bayou area had lost over 4,000 acres of land.

The result of this depression were plain to see. The Mound Bayou State Bank, though lasting longer than any other Black bank in Mississippi (except one), .could not pay off its loans and was forced to close in 1922, never to open again. The oil mill, faced by depression and white boycott was finally closed in the mid-twenties, and just 10 years later was torn down. Many settlers, discouraged by the loss of their lands, moved North to Chicago or St. Louis many businesses fell into decay, and the one booming town was kept from further growth.

The next 15 years brought a series of depressions and disasters which contributed to the problems of Mound Bayou. Another cotton depression occurred in 1926, only to be followed by a disastrous fire that destroyed several businesses in town. Four years later the entire country entered a big depression, and once again the Delta was hard hit. Combined with the increasing mechanization of cotton agriculture, this depression worked towards the elimination of the Black small farmer.

Finally, in early 1941 the town was struck by its second disastrous fire, this one nearly destroying the entire business section of town. Despite the devastation of this period, the town faced internal problems which were equally as troublesome. The early government of the town had been essentially "communal" in spirit. Town meetings were held in which all important issues were discussed and decided. However, factions began developing as early as 1892, when Montgomery and Green dissolved the old partnership which founded the town. Green was shot four years later by an unknown assailant after an argument, and the split was buried. But by 1912, some differences of opinion had developed between Banks and Montgomery. These differences may have been healthy for the community had not the split widened in 1917. That year, Banks' supporter, Mayor Creswell, for some reason did not hold municipal elections, Montgomery had his son-in-law, Mr. E.P. Booze, appointed as mayor, along with an entirely different slate of aldermen. Creswell held elections a month later, and he was re-elected. Booze held a set of elections several weeks later, and he was elected mayor. The argument was taken to court, where in 1918, Booze lost. Thus, for nearly a year, Mound Bayou had two separate city governments! The causes of this factionalizing are wrapped in mystery, but its legacy was evident for 20 years.

In 1919 Benjamin Green's son, Mr. B.A. Green, was elected mayor, once 


Presley's Gin & Grocery Store, one of Mound Bayou's 40 businesses.
One of Mound Bayou's 6 churches. Churches were social centers in addition to being houses of worship. Churches were also responsible for starting schools in the community. 

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