Against All Odds: The First Black Legislators in Mississippi

They were farmers, teachers, ministers, and blacksmiths. 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 virtual exhibit is a mirror of my original website, Against All Odds. Click here to watch my presentation about this project at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History's "History is Lunch" program on September 9, 2020, or click here to watch the discussion on the library's "Cultural Conversations" program.

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. 

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

-DeeDee Baldwin, History Research Librarian