From Hattiesburg to Columbus , several of the larger Mississippi cities have elected their first Black mayors the past few years. Some say it’s a sign of a maturing political process in a state with a difficult, complex history of race relations, including decades of violent backlash against Black people who attempted to vote.
Robert M. Walker, who has taught history at Jackson State University, says Mississippi is seeing the long-term effects of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which banned discriminatory practices, including sham “literacy tests” that often asked vastly different questions of Blacks and Whites as they registered to vote.
“It’s almost like having money in the bank that you don’t do anything with,’’ Walker said. “For many years, there have been folk who pay who didn’t do anything with the resources they had at their disposal. Now, with this maturing, you see something happening.’’