Special to The Clinton Courier
Clinton is a city with a rich history of inﬂuence on Mississippi politics. Many events and people that helped shape the state have signiﬁcant ties to Clinton. One such event was the Clinton Riot of 1875, which became a catalyst for ending Reconstruction in Mississippi.
For years, varying accounts of the riot have been passed down from generation to generation in homes and classrooms alike. Over the years, many efforts have been made to chronicle and memorialize the event and its role in Mississippi’s history. Two key components to this important story have been missing for some time. The ﬁrst is the absence of a historical marker in the city to commemorate the Riot of 1875. The second is a comprehensive record of the riot that included the stories of all those involved: bystanders, press, victims and perpetrators.
Through the work of local historians, both of these issues have been resolved, and a signiﬁcant portion of Clinton’s history has been preserved for future generations.
Working with the City of Clinton’s History Committee, the historians, led by Dr. Walter Howell, have developed a historical marker recognizing the event and its historical signiﬁcance.
Additionally, through research, interviews with descendants and hours of dialogue, the historians have compiled a clear account of the event that takes into account the stories of blacks and whites involved in the Riot of 1875, often referred to as the events of Moss Hill.
On September 3 and 4, 2015, Clinton will host two events in commemoration of the Riot of 1875. The events will include not only the placement of a new historical marker, but will also feature dramatic readings of “voices” of the Clinton Riot and a symposium on history and race relations.
On Thursday, September 3, the History Committee will host a symposium in Swor Auditorium at Mississippi College. The title of the symposium is “Using the Past to Bridge a Future of Understanding and Reconciliation,” and participants will include Dr. Walter Howell, Robert Clark, Justice James Graves, Governor William Winter, Rev. Neddie Winters, Susan Glissen and Ottawa Carter. The event will be held from 6 until 8 p.m., and the public is encouraged to attend.
The new historical marker will be unveiled on Friday, September 4, at 10 a.m. at the corner of West Leake and Jefferson Streets in Olde Towne Clinton. In addition to the unveiling, the ceremony will include a dramatic reading of historical accounts from the riot, as well as, the reading of the names of those lost in the ensuing violence of the riot of 1875. Voices of the Clinton Riot will include ﬁrsthand accounts taken from congressional reports, newspaper editorials, diaries and other written sources. Accounts include those of Charles Caldwell, a prominent African-American political leader, and George Harper, editor of the Hinds County Gazette.
Members of the planning committee for the commemoration include Dr. Walter Howell, Dr. Otis Pickett, Vera Watson, Missy Jones, Jocylynn Coleman, Dr. Doug Richardson, Marsha Barham, Tara Lytal and Mark Jones.
All Clintonians are invited to attend the events and commemorate this signiﬁcant event in Mississippi history.
For more information, visit www.clintonms.org/history.