"There's no job too big to benefit from a small town person's perspective, I discovered, just as there's no town too small for thinking big."
The legacy of Unita Blackwell, like the legacy of many women of the Civil Rights Movement, is neither boisterous nor loud. We do not laud our woman heroes as we do our men.
The home of civil rights icon and assassination victim Medgar Evers is now a National Park Service monument, but the humble shack of Unita Blackwell, who challenged the segregated Democratic National Convention in 1964 and later became Mississippi’s first Black female mayor and helped bring modern infrastructure to the town of Mayersville, is in ruins.
This website seeks to uplift Blackwell and the other hard-working women who sacrificed sweat and health to drive the Civil Rights Movement. We would show the world that the icons of the movement were not the beginning and end of its strength, that many hands molded this nation into the democracy that it aspired to be.
Born to sharecroppers in 1933, Unita Blackwell, moved to Mayersville, MS in 1957 and became a leading figure in the civil rights battle in Mississippi. She was a project director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.
Blackwell also helped cultivate the Head Start program in the Mississippi Delta. As mayor of Mayersville, MS, she led efforts to incorporate the town and brought major improvements to the city's sewage and water infrastructure.
Blackwell served as an advisor to several U.S. Presidents, including Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.
In 1992, she received a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" for her lifelong work in promoting Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Civil Society and Community Organizing.