Black History Month- Isaiah Montgomery

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It’s Black History Month again in the United States throughout the month of February. As we celebrate black history we will profile some notable African Americans who contributed to Global Black history we have today.

Isaiah Montgomery

isaiah montgomeryBorn into slavery in 1847, Isaiah worked for the Davis family at the Davis-Bend Plantation in Mississippi. After the American Civil War Southern states were at the mercy of the Northern armies. President Abraham Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation on January 1, 1863 which freed Mr. Montgomery. His former slave master at the Davis-Bend Plantation who was the brother to the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis loaned him some land as he had been the most hardworking slave at the plantation.

Isaiah Montgomery used the land to plant cotton, the most profitable crop at the time in America. Isaiah encouraged the other free slaves to form a cooperative and share the profits of their labor. At the height of their success, Isaiah Montgomery was the third largest cotton producer in Mississippi and Mississippi was the largest producer of cotton. However, after the fall of cotton prices and bad weather conditions Montgomery lost his land and became indebted to the Davis’.

After the failure of the plantation, Isaiah Montgomery along with his cousin Benjamin T. Green, bought property in the northwest frontier of the Mississippi Delta to found Mound Bayou in 1887. Mound Bayou grew to some 4,000 inhabitants, with 30,000 acres of land owned by the community which produced 3,000 bales of cotton and 2,000 bushels of corn annually on 6,000 acres of farmland. It had a town hall, a depot, lighted streets, a half-dozen churches, more than 40 businesses, a train station, a saw mill, three cotton gins, a telephone exchange, schools, and a photographer. It was the self-governing and self-sustaining all-black community that Isaiah Montgomery had envisioned. Mound Bayou received national recognition from Booker T. Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. By World War I, bad investments and a weak economy had led to the gradual decline of the community but it is not listed as a national historic site.

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