Commemorating "bloody wade-in" 50 years later - - The News for South Mississippi

Commemorating "bloody wade-in" 50 years later


By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One by one they stood as their names were called. In all, more than 70 names were on the list, including those who have passed on. They're the men and women who staged a non-violent demonstration, protesting segregation on the beach in South Mississippi. The incident which took place on April 24th, 1960, became known as the "bloody wade-in."

"You can't forget things that people went through to change things," says Adell Lott, demonstrator.

The man leading the charge that day, the late Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr. As the demonstrators waded in the beach waters, a mob of angry whites attacked them, and they were left with little to no police protection. 

Though they left bloodied and battered, the events that unfolded that day would lead to a legal challenge in the federal courts opening the door to an integrated beach in 1968.

Among those on the beach that day, Ms. Ruby Dickey and her late husband.

"I can't forget it, because it's very important to me. It's very important to listen and take this in," says Dickey.

Professors from University of Southern Mississippi, like Dr. Pat Smith, provided a timeline leading up to the wade-In. At times, Smith provided an hour by hour account of the events that unfolded that day.

Professor Curtis Austin, a history professor, spoke about the importance of preserving the oral history of those involved in the struggle for civil rights. 

But the day belonged to those who made history and whose defiance in the face of social injustice left an indelible mark on South Mississippi's beach and the social landscape. Among those who help leave that mark was Bishop James Black, pastor of Faith Tabernacle of Praise in Biloxi.

"Those who have passed on and those who struggle want to see our young people take advantage of all the rights and privileges they have now. If they would just achieve and be good citizens and do their very best, the price will be paid back," said Black, demonstrator.

Following the program, the presentation of ceremonial marker was scheduled to take place at the Biloxi lighthouse. Due to the weather, the ceremony was postponed for a later date.

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