After watching the Women of the Movement series on ABC I wanted to learn more about Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard and Mound Bayou, MS.
I was born in Tchula, MS and like the Till family we moved to Chicago during the “Great Migration.”
Most of what I learned about Black history especially Black history during the Jim Crow south I learned from my family and in school.
My grandparents were very active in the civil rights movement. They housed freedom riders and held strategy meetings at the Community Center. My grandfather Tommie L. Louie was one of the 17 who marched from Tchula to the Lexington Courthouse to demand our right to vote and our original family home was almost burned down by the KKK.
Mound Bayou was founded out of necessity.
I said all that to say that Black history especially in the south is personal for me. So when I saw Mound Bayou and Dr. Howard featured on the Women of the Movement series I wanted to see the town that is considered the oldest ALL Black municipality in the U.S. and learn more about Dr. Howard the first chief surgeon at the hospital Knights and Daughters of Tabor in the town.
Founded by ex slave IT Montgomery in 1887 the town was all about Black excellence! Black power! and Black money! Everything was run by us and for us! Even though it’s far from its glory days I could feel its rich history as I drove thru town.
When I first got here in 1947, the whole town was hopping! Music, cafes, people strolling up and down the main street.
There are no more cafes and I definitely didn’t hear any music playing. It was very quiet. Almost too quiet for a Saturday afternoon. The once booming hotspots like the hospital that Dr. Howard was the chief surgeon at, or the zoo, large farm, restaurant, home construction company, insurance firm, and the swimming pool Dr. Howard built are all gone.
In the series you might recall Dr. Howard explaining to Mamie Till that everything he built in the community was designed to enrich our people, even the hospital.
So when one of us is sick we can enter thru the front door and we can do so knowing that we’ll be heard and counseled by someone that can see our pain and acknowledge it.
After leaving I decided to stop in Cleveland to try the catfish and the Catfish Cabin and check out the Grammy Museum.
I asked a local where I could get some good catfish and he recommended The Catfish Cabin. You can’t be in the Mississippi Delta and not eat catfish. After waiting 45 minutes for my order I was not in the mood to eat. So that’s that! I hate to give bad reviews, but it is what it is.
Anyway I really enjoyed getting to know a Mississippi jewel and hope to return one day.
Until next time Ya’ll
Travel brings power and love back into your life……