Against All Odds: The First Black Legislators in Mississippi

They were farmers, teachers, ministers, blacksmiths, and lawyers. Some were born free in the North, while others were born enslaved in Mississippi. Some were highly educated, and others had been forbidden by law to be taught to read. Many came to Mississippi to help their Southern brothers and sisters build a more just government, and many were driven out by violence only a few years later. Learn about the first African American men to serve on Mississippi’s state legislature during and just after Reconstruction. A few of these men, such as Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce, are relatively well-known. The vast majority, however, faded into obscurity, just as the white supremacist power structure wanted.

This site is intended to provide information that is not readily available elsewhere. If more prominent figures have extensive biographies elsewhere online, I have linked to those instead of spending research time on them.

This is an ongoing research project; I am continually exploring sources and adding more information about these men. If you would like to contribute, you can email me. Please be aware that all information I have is on the site; I do not have additional information that isn’t already posted.

Content note: some of the primary sources quoted include offensive racist language.

This site’s content is also available as a digital exhibit presented by Mississippi State University Libraries.


News & Updates

Watch a conversation with Karen Burch (descendant of George Washington Albright) and Bianca Ford (descendant of Emanuel Handy) for Society of Mississippi Archivists’ Virtual Table Talks program, recorded May 21.

On July 27, site creator DeeDee Baldwin will talk about AAO as part of the “Recovery of Nineteenth-Century Black Histories” panel for the Association for Documentary Editing virtual conference.

Legislators

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Albright, George Washington (Marshall)
Allen, William H. (Coahoma)
Atwood, Louis Kossuth (Hinds)
Barrow, Peter Barnabus (Warren)
Bell, Monroe (Hinds)
Blackwell, Stephen B. (Issaquena)
Boulden, Jesse Freeman (Lowndes)
Bowles, Countelow M. (Bolivar)
Bowles, George F. (Adams)
Boyd, Anderson (Oktibbeha)
Boyd, George W. (Warren)
Boyd, Walter (Yazoo)
Brooks, Arthur (Monroe)
Brooks, Frank P. (Sharkey)
Brown, George P. A. (Tunica)
Bruce, Blanche Kelso (state)
Brunt, Orange (Panola)
Bufford, Joseph Henry (Bolivar)
Bush, Charles W. (Warren)
Butler, George William (Sharkey)
Caldwell, Charles (Hinds)
Caradine, J. Wesley (Clay)
Carter, Hannibal Caesar (Warren)
Cessor, James D. (Jefferson)
Charles, George (Lawrence)
Chavis, George Washington (Warren)
Chiles, Benjamin (Oktibbeha)
Christmas, Richard (Copiah)
Clemens, Charles P. (Clarke)
Coates, Milton (Warren)
Cocke, John (Panola)
Cory, Felix L. (Adams)
Cotton, Thomas A. (Noxubee)
Craytin, Henry (Yazoo)
Cunningham, Robert (Marshall)
Davis, Alexander Kelso (Noxubee)
Davis, Willis (Adams)
Dixon, James M. (Yazoo)
Edwards, George (Madison)
Edwards, Weldon W. (Warren)
Fields, Alfred (Panola)
Fitzhugh, Samuel W. (Wilkinson)
Foley, Hugh M. (Wilkinson)
Foote, William Henderson (Yazoo)
Gayles, George Washington (Bolivar)
Gleed, Robert (Lowndes)
Glenn, J. H. (Lowndes)
Granberry, George Caldwell (Hinds)
Gray, William (Washington)
Green, David S. (Grenada)
Griggs, Richard (Issaquena)
Handy, Alfred Newton (Madison)
Handy, Emanuel (Copiah)
Harris, John F. (Washington)
Harris, W. H. (Washington)
Harrison, Henry H. (Chickasaw)
Head, Charles P. (Warren)
Hence, William W. (Adams)
Henderson, Ambrose (Chickasaw)
Henry, John Franklin (Madison)
Hicks, Weldon (Hinds)
Hicks, Wilson (Rankin)
Higgins, David (Oktibbeha)
Hill, James (Marshall)
Holmes, William (Monroe)
Hopson, D. H. (Coahoma)
Horton, Gilbert (Washington)
Houston, Russell Walker (Issaquena)
Howard, Merrimon (Jefferson)
Howard, Perry (Holmes)
Huntley, George W. (Bolivar)
Jackson, Henry L. (Rankin)
Jacobs, Henry P. (Adams)
Jenkins, David (Madison)
Johnson, Albert (Warren)
Johnson, J. H. (DeSoto)
Johnson, John (Madison)
Johnson, William (Hinds)
Jones, Cornelius J. (Issaquena)
Jones, William H. (Issaquena)
Kendrick, Reuben (Amite)
Landers, William R. (Jefferson)
Levy, Matthew (Madison)
Lewis, Samuel W. (Madison)
Lowe, William Lucius (Bolivar)
Lynch, James D.
Lynch, John Roy (Adams)
Lynch, William H. (Adams)
Mallory, William H. (Warren/Leflore/Sunflower)
Marshall, James G. (Holmes)
Mathews, D. T. J. (Panola)
Mayson, Henry (Hinds)
McCain, Thomas (DeSoto)
McFarland, J. W. (Rankin)
McLeod, Murdock M. (Hinds)
McNeese, Marshall (Noxubee)
Mitchell, Cicero (Holmes)
Mitchell, Peter (Washington)
Monroe, Joseph E. (Coahoma)
Moore, James Aaron (Lauderdale)
Moore, L. C. (Bolivar)
Moore, Lemuel C. (Issaquena)
Morgan, John H. (Washington)
Moseley, George G. (Hinds)
Nathan, Cato (Monroe)
Nettles, Randle (Oktibbeha)
Newsom, Matthew T. (Claiborne)
Norris, C. F. (Hinds)
Oliver, George H. (Coahoma)
Overton, Lawrence W. (Noxubee)
Parker, Jones R. (Washington)
Patterson, James G. (Yazoo)
Peal, Alfred (Marshall)
Peyton, Perry (Bolivar)
Piles, James H. (Panola)
Poston, Albert B. (Panola)
Randolph, John W. (Sunflower/Leflore)
Reese, Charles (Hinds)
Revels, Hiram Rhodes (Adams)
Richards, Elzy A. (Lowndes)
Riley, Samuel (Wilkinson)
Robinson, William M. (Hinds)
Rogers, A. A. (Marshall)
Ross, Jacob Allen (Washington)
Sanderlin, Samuel A. (Washington/Issaquena)
Scarborough, Edmund (Holmes)
Scott, Henry P. (Issaquena)
Selby, Gray C. (Marshall)
Settle, Josiah Thomas (Panola)
Shadd, Isaac D. (Warren)
Shirley, Nathan (Monroe/Chickasaw)
Shorter, James A., Jr. (Hinds)
Simmons, James S. (Issaquena/Washington)
Simpson, Adam D. (Madison)
Smith, George C. (Coahoma)
Smith, Gilbert C. (Tunica)
Smith, Haskin (Claiborne)
Smothers, Joseph (Claiborne)
Spelman, Dr. James J. (Madison)
Stewart, Fred (Holmes)
Stewart, Isham (Noxubee)
Stites, Doctor (Washington)
Stringer, Thomas W. (Warren)
Sykes, Thomas (Panola)
Thompson, Robert (Lowndes)
Truhart, Harrison H. (Holmes)
Vaughan, Guilford (Panola)
Wade, F. Dora (Yazoo)
Walker, Jefferson Cobb (Monroe)
Washington, George (Carroll)
Washington, George R. (Adams)
Weatherly, Tenant (Holmes)
Webster, John D. (Washington)
Welborne, Eugene Bonaparte (Hinds)
White, George (Chickasaw)
White, George W. (Wilkinson)
Williams, Jeremiah M. P. (Adams)
Williams, Ralph (Marshall)
Wilson, Michael (Marion)
Yancey, Charles A. (Panola)
Young, James B. (Washington)
Young, James M. (Panola)