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The Mississippi enterprise. : (Jackson, Miss.) 1938-current
Place of publication:
Jackson, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • Jackson, Hinds, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
[Willie J. Miller]
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1938.
  • English
  • African Americans--Mississippi--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Jackson (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Mississippi--Jackson.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205500
  • Mississippi.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01207034
  • "A news service for Mississippi Negroes."
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 49 (Sept. 23, 1939).
sn 87065258
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The Mississippi enterprise. August 15, 1942 , Image 1


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The Mississippi Enterprise

The Mississippi Enterprise was one of two long-running, contemporary papers published in the state capitol, Jackson, for African American citizens; the other was the Jackson Advocate started in 1939 by Percy Greene. The Advocate and the Enterprise were typically eight-pages, published weekly, and distributed on Saturday. Greene and Willie J. Miller of the Enterprise were conservatives who adhered to Booker T. Washington's self-help philosophy. The two journals were able to survive many decades due in part to financial support by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a state agency dedicated to racial segregation.

Although the paper may have started as early as 1933 under a different title, in 1938 it became The Mississippi Enterprise with Miller as managing editor; by 1953, he owned the publication. Described as "A news service for Mississippi Negroes," the first page typically carried state news and sometimes national and international news from the International Negro Press. The strength of the paper, however, was local news from many towns and cities including Bay Springs, Brandon, Brookhaven, Canton, Clarksdale, Crystal Springs, Hazlehurst, Holly Springs, Jackson, McComb, Meridian, Monticello, Raymond, Terry, Utica, and Winona. For a time in the 1960s, every issue served as The Mississippi Enterprise, the Greenwood Enterprise, and the Vicksburg Enterprise; each title was assigned its own volume and issue number. Local information included general news; club and other social events; high school sports scores; personal accomplishments, and marriage, birth, death, and church announcements. In addition to publishing the newspaper, Miller was an entertainment promoter, and the paper often announced nationally known acts coming to Jackson, such as Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, B.B. King, and Etta James, in a masthead banner. The July 7, 1945 issue reported that Louis Armstrong was to play at the Colored Skating Rink in Jackson, another business owned and operated by Willie Miller. Advertisements were often for businesses on or near Farish Street, the heart of the African American business district in Jackson. According to Miller's obituary, he published the Enterprise until 1988 after which there are no known issues.

The Democratic The Mississippi Enterprise covered many of the same issues with a similar slant as the Jackson Advocate although the former supported more conservative politics. A third page advertisement in the January 30, 1943 issue defined the paper's underlying premise: "The Mississippi Enterprise is the Recognized State Paper for Colored People Endorsed and Supported by our White Friends." This stance on cooperation resulted in a reluctance to criticize outrages against African Americans as reflected in the limited, neutral reports on the lynchings of Emmett Till (1955) and Mack Charles Parker (1959), African American men accused of offending or raping a white woman. The paper did advocate for black educational and voting rights while apparently avoiding the issue of whether or not educational institutions should be integrated. A February 15, 1958 editorial declared, "All citizens must be given equal educational opportunities, equal job opportunities, based on ability, equal and fair participation in the affairs of our government on all levels."

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History