James Hill

"One of the slaves of Holly Springs, James Hill became Secretary of State of Mississippi from 1874-1878. He had served the family of James W. Hill, one of the town's leading citizens. After his emancipation, Hill continued to maintain a cordial relationship with the family of his former owner with whom he shared both first and last names. He was admired for his competence as a public official and for his generosity to his former masters during their times of need. It is remarkable that his public service extended beyond the time of domination by the Radical Republicans and that he was reelected even after the mass disenfranchisement of Mississippi's black community. During the Civil War he served as the personal servant to two of the Hill boys, John H. and W. B. Hill."


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Rust College

Rust's curriculum spanned from elementary education to normal school training for teachers

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Desegregation in Marshall County

(1960s) Wazir Peacock was a SNCC field secretary in Mississippi and Alabama who attended Rust College. He describes the desegregation movement and its origins in Holly Springs:

“I went to Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. I was in college when the sit-ins started in North Carolina, so we started right there on the campus. The little theater we used to go to downtown, the movie theater, the first thing we did was boycott it, because we were sitting up there in the balcony. It was separate. The college students provided 90% of the income for that theater, but we had to sit up there in this balcony separated from the main floor. So we did that successfully. So rather than integrate it, the owner of it, he closed it. He closed it, because he wasn’t going to step out there on his own and do something. Economically, he couldn’t go on running the movie without us, so he closed it. That was our first action. We got our feet wet. That was the first thing we did.”


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Mississippi Industrial College

Opened in 1905, the college now lies in disrepair. Many of the civil rights leaders attended this school. The school’s objectives were to provide literary and industrial training to black youth, to train young men and women in Christian ideals, and to furnish a practical education.


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