Trail Marker

2211 5th Street, Meridian, MS

Although Meridian had a thriving African-American Business District, Black citizens still faced discrimination from white-owned businesses. The Jim Crow laws that segregated the South would not go away easily. Many businesses that catered to a Black clientele still refused to hire Black employees. They maintained segregated lunch counters or refused to serve African-Americans altogether.

One of the first sit-ins in Meridian was at Woolworth’s (which occupied part of the ground floor of the Rosenbaum Building) to protest its separate white and Black lunch counters. Thirteen people were arrested. The Meridian Action Committee (MAC) was formed by the Reverend Charles Johnson in part to continue protest efforts. MAC negotiated with businesses, urging them to hire African-Americans and to integrate their lunch counters. When negotiations failed, the group turned to sit-ins, pickets, and boycotts to achieve its goals. MAC picketed Kress and negotiated with Newberry over their “whites only” counters.

MAC succeeded in getting African-Americans hired in numerous businesses throughout the city. Grocery stores like Winn-Dixie and the Help-Yourself chain mostly served Black customers, but they refused to hire Black cashiers or bag boys until they were picketed. One of MAC’s first protests was at the Cinderella shoe store, where a white manager had slapped a Black customer. The manager was fired and two African-Americans were hired.

Directions to next marker (The Jewish Contribution): Continue down 5th Street, and turn left on 22nd Avenue; marker located on left near intersection.

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