New exhibit on historic beach wade-ins


Historians say the wade-ins that broke out right on the beaches of Biloxi started the Civil Rights movement for Mississippi. A brand new exhibit at the Biloxi Public Library goes in depth about the battles that led to the desegregation of the beaches.
Today everyone has the right to enjoy the beautiful 26 miles of sand that line the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Nearly 60 years ago, that wasn’t the case. NAACP member Gordon Jackson remembers the time when black people weren’t allowed anywhere on the beach. “If a black person tried to get on the beach or use the beach they were ejected, thrown out.”
It was bloodshed battles and marches for integration that eventually won the right for African Americans to be accepted on beaches in Biloxi and on the Coast. “Two people died in the march, I believe, in the early 60s. Several were arrested, injured and things of that nature,” said Jackson.
These marches for equality are known as the historic beach wade-ins. A brand new exhibit at the Biloxi Public Library displays a timeline of these events historians say started the Civil Rights movement for Mississippi. History Librarian Jane Shambra said, “People can actually look at the history that happened in a very clear format.”
Many who participated in the fight for equality on our beaches still live in the community. “It’s a very important part of history that a lot of people don’t understand or do not have enough information about,” said Shambra.
Today, up and down our beaches you can see signs memorializing the historic wade-ins. Jackson says it’s important to remember because knowing the past will help the future of our community. “When you have a better diverse community we have a better community overall, that is stronger, that is more vibrant, that thrives better and that enables that community to grow.”