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Lynch Street Cultural Arts Festival celebrates a rich, storied history

By Carey Miller

The West Jackson Community Development Corp. presents the Lynch Street Cultural Arts Festival Friday and Saturday. Now in its 14th year, music, art and food reflective of the area is featured.

"It was organized to provide a cultural festival for the people in the community who may not be able to experience performing arts," Gale Clayton, the festival's chairwoman, explained.

John R. Lynch Street, which runs from U.S. 80 to Gallatin Street in west Jackson, is so named for the former slave, a champion of civil rights and a prominent black politician during the turbulent period of Reconstruction following the Civil War.

Along with the historic Farish Street district, the Lynch Street area historically has been the center of black culture and commerce in Jackson.

"At one point in time, Lynch Street served Jackson as one of the most thriving, progressive business districts in the state," Linda H. Carter, executive director of the West Jackson CDC, said.

Civil rights leader Medgar Evers had his field office for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People at the Masonic Temple on Lynch Street in the 1960s.

"A lot of the entertainment in that era was done on Lynch Street at the Masonic Temple," Clayton said of the historic building. "This area had a history of cultural and performing arts."

[...]

WHO IS JOHN ROY LYNCH?

John Roy Lynch (1847-1939), a former slave, was a prominent black politician during Reconstruction. He was born near Vidalia, La., in Concordia Parish, and was relocated to Natchez with his mother in 1863 while they were still slaves. After emancipation, Lynch was appointed as a justice of the peace by Gov. Adelbert Ames in 1869. He was a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1869-73, serving as speaker of the House in 1872. He later was elected for three terms to the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1889-93, Lynch served as fourth auditor of the treasury for the Navy Department under President Benjamin Harrison. He was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1896 and practiced law in Washington, D.C. Lynch was a major figure in the Republican Party and a champion of civil rights until his death.

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Clarion-Ledger, “Clarion-Ledger clipping,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed April 13, 2024, https://msstate-exhibits.libraryhost.com/items/show/734.

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