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March 09 , 2011

Mississippi Black History Makers


This new edition of biographical sketches of notable blacks from Mississippi expands the edition published in 1977. A total of 166 figures are included in this new printing, all of them persons who have, by the authors' comprehensive survey, "made significant contributions in bringing about the uplift of the black race."

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Black history makers are defined herein as those who have achieved national prominence in their fields, have made lasting contributions within the state as pioneers in fields where blacks were not previously allowed, or contributed in their own community or field, representing the lives of many blacks and serving as role models of what can be accomplished. Each of those included in the book either was born in Mississippi and spent a part of his or her childhood there or migrated to Mississippi and remained.

Seventy-five history makers have been added to those in the first edition which included Hiram R. Revels, the first black U.S. Senator; Blanche K. Bruce, the first black U.S. Senator to serve a six-year term; political and civil rights leaders such as Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, and Fannie Lou Hamer; and contributors to arts and letters such as Leontyne Price, William Grant Still, Margaret Walker Alexander, and James Earl Jones; and many others./ Among those included in this new edition of Mississippi Black History Makers are William Johnson, a free black from antebellum Natchez; Margaret Murray Washington, wife of Booker T. Washington; "Bo Diddley" McDaniel, a pioneer rock-and-roll musician; Walter Payton, running back for the Chicago Bears; and other notable black Mississippians.

Information about many contemporary figures who appeared in the first edition has been updated, and the book has been reorganized in ten thematic sections: politics, civil rights, business, education, performing and visual arts, journalism and literature, military, science/medicine/social work, sports, and religion. Each section is introduced with an historical overview of this field in Mississippi, written by Margaret Dwight.

This book is a valuable reference work for those wishing to assess the contributions of blacks to the history of Mississippi. Of particular significance is the fact that it is a collection which brings attention to lesser known figures as well as those of considerable renown.

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