African-American History

African-American history in Mississippi is older than the state itself. The earliest African-Americans were brought here as slaves before statehood in 1817.

Less than a half-century after Mississippi was granted statehood, the nation erupted in Civil War. The war brought emancipation, and the slow road to civil rights began. In 1870, Hiram Revels of Natchez became the first African-American to serve in the United States Senate — even though African-Americans had not yet gained the right to vote and continued to live in a segregated society. Years later, Mississippians such as Ida B. Wells, Medgar Evers and James Meredith would help lead the charge to a more equal society.

Other African-Americans hailing from Mississippi would make major contributions to American culture. William Grant Still of Woodville, a prolific and respected classical composer, became the first African-American to conduct a major American symphony orchestra and the first to have a symphonic composition performed by a major orchestra. Richard Wright would become one of the leading writers of his generation, and later William Raspberry and Natasha Trethewey would win Pulitzer Prizes. The imprint that these and other African-American Mississippians have made on American history and culture continues to impact and enrich our lives today.

The new, interactive Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson explores the true stories of the Civil Rights movement, and shows how those events shaped a state and changed the world. Once you visit the museum, venture to some of the 25 sites on the Mississippi Freedom Trail to experience history at the source.

  • Mississippi Book Festival

    August 18 @ 8:00 am - August 18 @ 5:00 pm

    Known as Mississippi’s “Literary Lawn Party” this free event for book lovers of all ages is held on the grounds of the State Capitol and feature over 150 authors, more than 45 panels, activities and more.

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  • Cruisin the Coast

    September 30 @ 8:00 am - October 7 @ 5:00 pm

    America’s Largest Block party featuring classic cars from all over the world showcase their rides and cruise the beautiful beach-side highway along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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  • Mississippi State Fair

    October 3 @ 8:00 am - October 14 @ 5:00 pm

    One of the South’s largest fairs with amusement rides, concessions, national recording artists, agricultural and livestock competitions, exhibits and more take place in Jackson.

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  • Great Mississippi River Balloon Race

    October 19 @ 8:00 am - October 21 @ 5:00 pm

    The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race is the most colorful annual event in Natchez, with gorgeous hot air balloons filling the skies over the river as local and national talent fill the air with live music.

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  • 7th Annual Delta Hot Tamale Festival

    October 20 @ 8:00 am - October 20 @ 5:00 pm

    Proclaimed as the “Hot Tamale Capital of the World” this unique festival features multiple tamale vendors, music, eating contest, famous chefs and much more.

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