It’s not very often that Mississippi makes national headlines. But, there are exceptions to every rule; here are 10 of them.
1. The Woolworth Sit-In
On May 28, 1963, several students from Tougaloo College staged a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter in a Jackson Woolworth’s. The infamous protest occurred just after the Supreme Court legalized sit-ins; however, the Jackson police did little as the integrated group of protesters were attacked by a mob of about 300.
2. Hurricane Camille
The powerful category 5 storm struck in August of 1969, hitting Mississippi’s Gulf Coast in the early morning hours. The 200 mph winds wreaked havoc, and in the end, claimed hundreds of victims and caused over $1 million in damages, which is a little over $9 million in today’s money.
3. The Freedom Summer Murders
In the summer of 1964, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who were working to register black voters in Mississippi, were picked up by local police and unjustly imprisoned for several hours. After being released, the three men were abducted and subsequently murdered by the KKK. This sad turn of events inspired the movie “Mississippi Burning.”
4. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash
On October 20, 1977, while en route to Baton Rouge, the twin engine plane transporting Lynyrd Skynyrd and about 20 others ran out of fuel and crash landed in a Gillsburg swamp. Authorities were alerted when 3 survivors made their way to a nearby farm and called for help.
5. James Meredith’s Arrival at the University of Mississippi
After the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, African-American James Meredith was admitted to the University of Mississippi; however, when he arrived to register for classes in September of 1962, the entrance was blocked. In response, Attorney General Robert Kennedy had hundreds of U.S. Marshals accompany Meredith to the campus, which was in addition to the military police, troops from the Mississippi National Guard, and officials from the U.S. Border Patrol that President John F. Kennedy had sent. On October 1, 1962, Meredith officially became the first African-American student at the University of Mississippi.
6. The Murder of Emmett Till
In the summer of 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was visiting family in Money when he was murdered for flirting with a white woman. Till’s young age coupled with the brutality of the crime garnered national attention, galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement.
7. Hurricane Katrina
The August 2005 storm will forever be remembered as one of the deadliest in the history of the United States. Initially, Hurricane Katrina wasn’t viewed as much of a threat; however, the storm’s winds soon reached speeds well over 100 mph, and in the end, claimed over 1,800 lives.
8. The Game of Change
In attempt to keep Mississippi State University’s basketball team from playing an integrated team, Governor Ross Barnett filed an injunction prohibiting the Bulldogs from leaving the state. However, the team chose to head to Michigan to take on the Loyola basketball team. The historic 1963 face-off has since been dubbed the "Game of Change."
9. The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927
During the end of 1926 and the beginning of 1927, record rainfall caused the Mississippi River to overflow onto the banks in several areas. By April of 1927, the levee at Mounds Landing gave way, allowing the river to flow with the force of Niagara Falls. After all was said and done, more than 23,000 square miles of land flooded, hundreds of thousands of people were left without homes, and over 200 people lost their lives.
10. The Key Brothers Endurance Flight Record
In an attempt to save the struggling Meridian Municipal airport, brothers Fred and Al Key set out to break the endurance-flight record, which, at the time, was 533 hours. On June 4, 1935, a crowd of about 100 watched as the brothers took off from the Meridian airport. Nearly one month later, the Keys returned to a crowd of about 30,000 cheering supporters, shattering the record with a non-stop endurance flight time of 653 hours and 34 minutes.
Have a personal story about something listed above? What are some other events that had the entire nation focusing on Mississippi? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.