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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley, TN

28 Mar

I’ve decided to start a new series for the blog called 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Life in Ripley. This is the first entry in this series.

1. Ripley was known for the largest African American Labor Day Celebration in the United States

My husband always made sure that we made it to Ripley every year for Labor Day. When I would ask why he would always say “Everybody comes home for Labor Day.” True enough, we would bump into his old friends and his family would always come into town. I thought about this memory as I read through Kate Johnston Peters “Lauderdale County From Earliest Times”. Peters mentions that Ripley had the largest Black Labor Day Celebration in all of the United States. This event was planned and directed by Blacks with supervision from three White men. The book does not state what year this celebration began, but it does state that it moved to Rice Park, which was donated to the Black community by WGL Rice. There aren’t very many details about what this celebration included. Did they have contests, pageants, games, a parade, etc? I wonder if my husband’s insistence on visiting Ripley every Labor Day somehow stems from a tradition started in the Black community in Ripley.

Labor Day in Ripley the year Rice Park opened

Labor Day in Ripley the year Rice Park opened


Do you have memories of big Labor Day celebrations in Ripley? I’d love to hear them.


– Tiffany

– Source: Kate Johnston Peters “Lauderdale County From Earliest Times” page 134.

– Image Source: Kate Johnston Peters “Lauderdale County From Earliest Times”. Picture taken the first year Rice Park was opened.


TWB – Traveling While Black – Another Follow Up

28 Mar

Awhile back I posted on the listings that one could find in the Negro Motorist Green Book for establishments in Memphis, TN. Below are some of the ads I found in the Memphis Negro Yearbook and Business Directory for 1949. If I find more information on these businesses and others featured in the Negro Motorists Green Book I’ll be sure to post.



Mitchell Hotel 160 Hernando St


Marquette Hotel 507 Linden

Both of these hotels are owned by Black women. I wonder if there is a backstory there. I will continue searching for pictures of the actual establishments.

– Tiffany

– Source:  Negro Yearbook and Business Directory 1949 (Memphis & Shelby County Room – Benjamin Hooks Library)

The New Grand Theatre – Jackson, TN

21 Nov

I found this ad in The Freeman Illustrated Colored Newspaper June 29, 1912 edition.

New Grand Theatre June 29, 1912 – The Freeman Illustrated Colored Newspaper

Because the ad was found in a Black newspaper I’d take a guess that the New Grand Theatre might have been an establishment for Blacks or an establishment that did not mind having Black acts perform. Has anyone heard of this theater? I did a quick google search, but did not turn up with any leads.


– Tiffany