1960 April 24

Biloxi “Wade-In” Challenges Segregated Beaches


In Biloxi, Mississippi, on this day, 126 African-Americans challenged the segregated beaches in what was labelled a “wade-in.” The protest provoked mob attacks by white racists, resulting in injuries of many of the protesters. That night a riot occurred in the city of Biloxi, with whites driving through the African-American community, shouting threats and firing guns. The day’s events were described as “Bloody Sunday.”

In fact, there had been a prior “wade-in” the year before, in May 1959, in which nine African-Americans challenged the beach segregation policy. A second protest occurred on Easter Sunday, with a similar protest in nearby Gulfport, Mississippi, a week before the event on this day.

See also the famous “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, when police and Alabama state troopers brutally assaulted civil rights activists who were planning to march to Montgomery, Alabama, to demand voting rights. The brutal event galvanized the nation and eventually led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Learn more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-civil-rights-watershed-in-biloxi-mississippi-20888869/?no-ist

Read a memoir of the wade-in: Gilbert R. Mason, MD: Beaches, Blood and Ballots (2012)

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