In 1887 two formerly enslaved cousins bought 840 acres of swampland in the Mississippi Delta. Benjamin T. Green and Isaiah T. Montgomery used the site to found Mound Bayou, which went on to prosper as the largest and most self-sufficient all-Black town in the United States. Promised Land: A Story about Mound Bayou “not only tells the history of Mound Bayou, it celebrates the achievements of its residents and contributes to the conversation about its future,” said Claire Winn, director of programs for the Mississippi Heritage Trust, which funded the project alongside the National Park Service and others.
A discussion and Q&A will follow the film screening. Castel Sweet, director of UM Center for Community Engagement, will moderate the discussion, and W. Ralph Eubanks, the Black Power at Ole Miss Faculty Fellow at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, will provide opening remarks. Sweet and Eubanks are joined by Mound Bayou-natives and community leaders, Hermon Johnson Jr., Darryl Johnson, and Hermon Johnson Sr.
Hermon Johnson Jr. is a Mound Bayou native. To support the revitalization of Mound Bayou and the Mississippi Delta area, he cofounded the Mound Bayou Movement nonprofit with his brother, Darryl Johnson, and his father, Hermon Johnson Sr. Hermon is now the executive director of the Mound Bayou Museum of African American Culture and History.
Darryl Johnson is the founding pastor of the Walk of Faith Covenant Church. He is a former mayor of Mound Bayou, one of five founders of Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance, and vice president of World Conference of Mayors.
Hermon Johnson Sr. is referred to by many as “the man behind the scenes.” After graduating from Southern A&M College and serving in the military, he moved to Mound Bayou, where he originally worked as a field officer for the Magnolia Mutual Life Insurance Company under Dr. T. R. M. Howard, replacing Medgar Evers. Hermon is former vice mayor of Mound Bayou and cofounder and former president of Delta Housing and Development Corporation.
This event is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Center for Community Engagement.