The sad tale of the Black reverend who was killed by 6 white thugs stealing his 270-acre land

Michael Eli Dokosi Feb 13, 2020 at 10:00am

February 13, 2020 at 10:00 am | History

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

February 13, 2020 at 10:00 am | History

Rev. Isaac Simmons via Civil Rights Archive

Yes, this piece involves another white jury which absolved a white criminal. It also involves land capture and murder of a reverend even when the assailants identify as Christians.

Amite County, Mississippi during the Jim Crow era had the infamy of recording many lynching cases and on March 26, 1944, six whites set upon Rev. Isaac Simmons shooting him three times snuffing the life out of him.

While racism and poverty was the bane of black families in the South where slavery had thrived at their expense, Rev. Simmons’ family since 1887 controlled the more than 270 acres of debt-free Amite County land. He as a farmer and minister worked the land with his children and grandchildren, producing crops and selling the property’s lumber.

In 1941, rumor spread that there was oil in southwest Mississippi. A group of six white men decided they wanted the Simmons land and warned Rev. Simmons to stop cutting lumber. Rev. Simmons consulted a lawyer to work out the dispute and ensure his children would be the sole heirs to the property.

For consulting a lawyer as a law abiding citizen, the thugs vented that the Simmons family thought they were “smart niggers”. They picked Rev. Simmons’s eldest son, Eldridge and gave him a beating. They then dragged Rev. Simmons from his home about a mile away and began beating him, too. They then killed him brutally – shooting him three times and cutting out his tongue. The men let Eldridge Simmons go, but told him he and his relatives had 10 days to abandon the family property.

After Eldridge and the rest of the Simmons family buried Rev. Simmons, they fled their land in fear. The white men who committed the lynching took possession of the land; only one of the six men was ever prosecuted for the murder, and he was ultimately acquitted by an all-white jury.

In Amite County many of such cases were known to county officials who also knew the perpetrators yet they were never brought to justice.

For years, Simmons’ son tried unsuccessfully to reclaim his father’s land, which was mysteriously lost after his death. It shows how the system riles against most Black people in this land which is supposed to be a sanctuary for freedom loving people.

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