Trail Marker

Intersection of 25th Avenue & 5th Street, Meridian, MS

The African-American Business District provided services that Meridian’s Black community could not otherwise receive. Jim Crow laws that were passed across the country from 1876 to 1965 kept most of Meridian’s businesses segregated. Many white-owned businesses either refused to serve black customers or served them on a limited basis. Beginning around the turn of the 20th century, pioneering African-American businesspeople stepped forward to fill the needs of their community.

E. F. Young, Jr., became a prominent businessman in the 1930s. He operated the E. F. Young Hotel, which featured a beauty shop, two barbershops, and a shoeshine parlor. The hotel was the only one in the area that served African-Americans. Locals recall Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., staying at the Young Hotel during one of his visits to Meridian. Young also started E. F. Young, Jr., Manufacturing, the oldest ethnic hair-care products company in the country.

Also located in this area were two businesses that sought to improve the health of the Black community. Fielder and Brooks Drug Store opened in 1934 and served the pharmacy needs of the African-American community for decades. The second floor of the building was the headquarters of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), a coalition of Civil Rights groups, in 1964. The building was demolished in 2014. The Holbrook Benevolent Association (HBA) was established to help African-Americans receive medical care and decent burials. Jackie Robinson, who transformed major league baseball, spoke at an NAACP event held at the HBA Auditorium to raise funds for a statue to memorialize Civil Rights workers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman.

Directions to next marker (The Movement): Just to right of Marker #1

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