Up From Canaan

Up From Canaan

by Tullia Brown Hamilton

f95ad-upfromcanaanFounded in 1887 by two former slaves, Mound Bayou, Mississippi, was a self-contained, all-black community that flourished under the vision of its leader, Isaiah Montgomery, despite being located in the heart of the segregated, post-Civil War South. In its heyday the town was a proud symbol of black achievement and a tremendous source of racial pride. Newly freed African Americans were able, in that small but special haven, to experience a first taste of the American Dream; thus Mound Bayou came to seem like a promised land. With the decline of its agriculture-based economy and encroaching racial hostility, the town suffered reversals and many of the Mound Bayou’s inhabitants joined the millions of other African Americans who migrated northward in search of better employment, safety from physical violence, and the unfulfilled promises of freedom. Some journeyed to St. Louis, Missouri, where they put down roots and fashioned new lives. Up from Canaan is a slice of the Great Migration story told, in part, by those who, with hearts full of hope traded the familiar for the unknown.

Copyright © 2011.

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