1. Title 1

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 2: Mound Bayou Part 2: The Political Life of Isaiah Montgomery


Learning Objectives
After completing this lesson, students 
will be able to:
  • Analyze the reasons Black people sought to build their own towns after enslavement instead of integrate with Whites.
  • Discuss how Black people governed themselves and worked together for mutual assistance after enslavement.

  • Understand the concept of cooperative economics and how it was used to build and sustain Mound Bayou.

  • Discuss the hardships Blacks faced in creating and sustaining Mound Bayou.
1. How many delegates did the 1890 Mississippi Constitutional convention have? How many were White? How many were Black? How many were women?

Answer: The convention that created the 1890 constitution consisted of134 men, of which, 133 were white delegates. There was only 1 black delegate in the entire convention.

2. True or False: The citizens of Mississippi voted to ratify the constitution created at the 1890 convention? 

Answer: False. Unlike the 1868 constitution, the 1890 one did not go to the people of the state at large for their approval and ratification. The convention created, approved, and ratified it all on its own initiative, as was done in the case of the 1817 and 1832 state constitutions.
3. True or False? For the next eight decades after its adoption, the 1890 constitution effectively granted the Democrat-controlled Mississippian state government free rein to prevent most African Americans from voting and casting ballots, in addition to forcing them to attend separate schools, almost always deliberately of substandard quality, forbidding them to marry people of other ethnic groups, or to bear arms for self-defense.

Answer: True.

4.  Isaiah Montgomery is often remembered in history as a conservative "accommodator." What does accommodator mean?

Answer: An accommodator in this sense is a derogatory, or negative term for a person willing to what ine may say today, "sell-out" one's race or organization for self-gain or other's interests. 
5.  What was Montgomery's views on Black people voting before the 1890 Convention?

Answer: Isaiah admonished Blacks to stay away from politics. “This is a white man’s country,” Montgomery said more than once, “let them run it.” His advice to black Mississippians who still demanded a citizen’s right to vote was equally direct: “The farther you stay away from the white people’s politics, the better.”

6. True or False? Prior to the 1890 Mississippi Constitutional Convention, elections were always fair in the South and the rest of the country?

Answer: False. According to one prominent judge, J. J. Chrisman — himself a leading member of the constitutional convention — it was “no secret that there has not been a full vote and a fair count in Mississippi since 1875.”

7.   How did the business of the town grow in its first 20 years?

8. Why was the Mound Bayou Loan and Investment Company formed?

9.  How was the social life in Mound Bayou? Was there a lot of crime? What happened to unmarried couples living together?

10. Would you have wanted to live in Mound Bayou had you been born during that time? Why or why not?

11.  Was Mound Bayou a success or failure?

12.  Why did Mound Bayou ultimately fail?
Suggested Vocabulary
Randomly ask students the definition of one of the following words. Then ask them to put the word in a sentence. This is a great exercise for the beginning or end of a class, or if you finish a class early.

Accommodator-a person or thing that accommodates.
a domestic worker employed on a part-time basis or when needed.

Enigma - One that is puzzling, ambiguous, or inexplicable. A perplexing speech or text; a riddle.

Realist-One who is inclined to literal truth and pragmatism.

Traitor- One who betrays one's country, a cause, or a trust, especially one who commits treason.

Statesman- A man who is a leader in national or international affairs. A male political leader regarded as a disinterested promoter of the public good. A man who is a respected leader in a given field.

Pragmatist- A practical, matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems.

Reconstruction - closely associated with or suggestive of something.

Disfranchisement- To deprive of a privilege, immunity, or right of citizenship, especially the right to vote.

Reconciliation-   The process of reestablishing a close relationship: To settle or resolve: reconciled thedispute. To bring (oneself) to accept.

Negro - is a dated term historically used to refer to persons of African descent. Negro superseded Colored as the most polite word for African Americans at a time when black was considered more offensive. However, during the 1950s and 1960s, some black American leaders, notably Malcolm X, objected to the word Negro because they associated it with the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse. 

nadir - the lowest point in the fortunes of a person or organization.

sharecropping - Sharecropping is a form of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on their portion of land. This was a corrupt system that often cheated Black people out of their labor and reduced them to basically back to slaves.

resiliency - the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

perseverance - persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

influx - an arrival or entry of large numbers of people or things.

surplus - an amount of something left over when requirements have been met; an excess of production or supply over demand.

acre - a unit of land area equal to 4,840 square yards (0.405 hectare).

indebtedness - the condition of owing money.

conspicuous - standing out so as to be clearly visible.
foreclosure - the action of taking possession of a mortgaged property when the mortgagor fails to keep up their mortgage payments.
imminent - about to happen.
proprietor - the owner of a business, or a holder of property.
capitulation - the action of surrendering or ceasing to resist an opponent or demand.

prophetic - accurately describing or predicting what will happen in the future.


Booker T. Washington and the Town of Mound Bayou, August Meier
Phylon (1940-1956)
Vol. 15, No. 4 (4th Qtr., 1954), pp. 396-401
(located at Clark Atlanta University)

Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington