Today marks 58 years since the historic beach wade-in protest that led to integration on Mississippi’s public beaches. A memorial ceremony was held in Biloxi today where the Civil Rights movement changed history.
There was a time when not everyone was allowed to enjoy Mississippi’s beautiful coastal beaches. Clemon P. Jimerson Sr. grew up in Biloxi when African-Americans were restricted from walking the sand. “I just didn’t think it was right so when we were given the opportunity to go down and do this protest, I was excited.”
On April 24th, 1960, Jimerson was one of the 125 brave citizens that took a stand to end segregation. Known in history as the Biloxi Beach Wade-In, the Civil Rights movement was one of three protests led by Mississippi activist Dr. Gilbert Mason. The demonstrations were originally intended to be peaceful. “We were actually attacked by a mob that actually came down and started attacking us,” said Jimerson.
Riots that followed claimed the lives of two African-American men. It was on August 16th, 1968 that the beaches were finally integrated. A ceremony commemorating the beach wade-ins was held in Biloxi where a new Mississippi trail marker was unveiled, honoring the battle that changed history. Bishop James Black said, “Discrimination, segregation, and the fact that we weren’t able to come and enjoy this natural beach, this beautiful beach here, and we fought to win and we won.”
Activists say it’s important to look back to continue moving forward. “If it weren’t for the citizens and the people of the community to come down and take a stand this wouldn’t have happened.”