By Junifer Hall, JD, MPA, MBA
The Mississippi Delta City of Mound Bayou has designated and will celebrate “Katie Hall Day” on Saturday, July 9 in conjunction with its Annual Founder’s Day Ceremonies, which will be held on July 8-10, 2016. Mound Bayou, located approximately 100 miles south of Memphis, Tenn. on U.S. Highway #61, was founded on July 12, 1887 by two (2) former, slaves Isaiah T. Montgomery and Benjamin T. Green. Both Montgomery and Green were once the property of Joseph E. Davis (brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who served during the American Civil War).
Former United States Representative Katie Beatrice Green Hall, representing Gary and surrounding communities in the 97th and 98th United States Congress, was born six miles east of Mound Bayou in the rural area on April 3, 1938. The young Katie spent all of her formative and young adult years working in the cotton fields of Mound Bayou and Bolivar County (Mississippi), even after enrolling in 1955, at nearby Mississippi Vocational College (MVC), now known as Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.
Despite the strict enforcement of Mississippi’s Jim Crow (segregation) laws, the Mound Bayou of Katie’s youth was a thriving Southern town where African-Americans voted in all elections. The city had its own hospital, credit unions, newspapers and an assortment of African-American owned businesses. Also, the City of Mound Bayou was often visited by Tuskegee Institute President Booker T. Washington during the early 1900s. It was also home to one of the richest African-Americans in the State of Mississippi, Dr. T. R. M. Howard, who housed reporters and witnesses during the trial of Emmet Till’s alleged killers in the mid-1950s.
In commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Law Observance (1986-2016), the City of Mound Bayou will honor its most famous native — The Honorable Katie Beatrice Green Hall for authoring and sponsoring House of Representatives Bill, H.R. 3706, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Law. Mrs. Hall’s version of The King Bill was signed into federal law by Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America on November 2, 1983, in the Rose Garden of The White House in Washington, DC.
Today, “The King Bill” is celebrated by millions of Americans, and others around the world. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the only African-American and the only American to be honored with a national holiday in his name alone, in the history of the United States Congress.
The Ecumenical Service hosted by The Honorable Darryl Johnson, Sr., Mayor of the City of Mound Bayou celebrating the life and work of The Honorable Katie Beatrice Green Hall, former United States Representative (D-IN) will be held on Saturday, July 9, 2016, at 12 p.m. Noon, First Baptist Church, 301 NW Main Avenue, Mound Bayou, Mississippi. A Reception will follow immediately after the Ecumenical Service. The General Public is invited to attend and admission is free.
Junifer Hall, JD, MPA, MBA is Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Katie Hall Educational Foundation, Inc.