Shipping Hundreds of Innocent Black People to State Penitentiary

In anticipation of Natchez’s Tricentennial celebration, the city’s mayor says it’s time to “move toward a healing process.” That won’t be possible until systemic, entrenched racial injustices are rooted out and addressed.

By: Kirsten West Savali | THE ROOT |  Oct. 9 2015

Fifty years ago, police in Natchez, Miss. rounded up hundreds of innocent, civil rights protesters and shipped them off to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.   In October, the city’s mayor and Board of Aldermen publicly apologized for the grave injustice, the Natchez Democrat reports.

In anticipation of the national spotlight that will illuminate the city next year during its Tricentennial celebration, the board decided that it was time to make amends and did so in a public resolution.

In October of 1965, approximately 700 black citizens congregated at a local auditorium were arrested for organizing a march in protest of racist, voter disenfranchisement.  The ordinance cited in the mass arrest was later determined to be unconstitutional, according to Darrell White, Director of the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture.  But that didn’t matter to the good old boys.

Two hundred of those arrested were shipped off to Parchman, a prison notorious for its inhumane conditions, where they were subjected to mistreatment and abuse.  According to the Democrat, the protesters never went before a judge nor had their day in court.

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Kirsten West Savali is a cultural critic and senior writer for The Root and was awarded a 2015 Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship. Her provocative commentary explores the intersections of race, social justice, religion, feminism, politics and pop culture. Follow her on Twitter.

 

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