What is: Cotton Gins at Mound Bayou, Mississippi
What was: Mound Bayou, in the Mississippi Delta was founded in 1887 by former slaves, with a vision to be a self-reliant, autonomous, all-black community. For decades, it thrived and prospered, becoming famous for empowering its black citizens. The town also became known as a haven from the virulent racism of the Jim Crow South.
Annyce Campbell was born in Mound Bayou in 1924, the town was thriving. “You name it, we had it!” she told NPR “We had everything but a jail, to tell you the truth!” She told NPR about the town’s heydays, when Mound Bayou was home to dozens of businesses, three cotton gins, a sawmill, a cottonseed oil mill, a bank — all of them black-owned.
Mound Bayou was initially prosperous and known worldwide for its quality of cotton. Mount Bayou became the place Delta farmers, including white farmers, brought their cotton to get ginned and for shipment. There was the Montgomery Gin, Farmer’s Gin, McCarty Gin, Mound Bayou Gin Company, Planters Gin, Presley Gin and Thompson Gin.
For farmers, receiving the Mound Bayou stamp on their cotton allowed them to increase the prices of their cotton bales. As the town continued to grow, residents annually produced 3,000 bales of cotton (5000 bales in 1908)and 2,000 bushels of corn on 6,000 acres of farmland. For a time, Mound Bayou was the third-largest cotton-producing town in the South. (source: Jackson Free Press and https://ourmissmag.com/uncategorized/remembering-mound-bayou-mississippis-black-wall-street/).
In 1912, at the only black owned cotton seed oil mill opening, attended by 15000 people, one attendee is reported to have stated that cotton was king, and blacks were one step closer to the throne now. (Source: New York Tribune, https://digitalcommons.csumb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1257&context=caps_thes