118 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI In the decades afterward, African American leaders in the Lower River counties mostly tried to coexist peacefully with whites to obtain whatever advantages could be had for their people under a system of segregation. Hiram Revels, president of Alcorn University, supported the Democrats in the 1875 election and cultivated friendly relations with them in an effort to preserve Alcorn’s very existence. Revels was forced to accept drastic funding cuts, the replacement of the all-African American board of trustees with an all-white board, and the changing of the school’s name to Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College to symbolically downgrade it from an institution of higher learning to a vocational college. Between 1877 and 1950, there were sixty-two known lynchings in the Lower River counties. African Americans in the Lower River counties were forced to submit to white political and economic control of their lives. There was, however, one notable flurry of organized resistance to segregation in the century between the end of Reconstruction and the civil rights era. In the summer of 1904, a new state law requiring segregated streetcars triggered a boycott of them in Natchez and Vicksburg. These actions were part of a chain of boycotts across the South in response to a wave of similar laws. Those in Natchez and Vicksburg ultimately ALCORN STATE UNIVERSITY After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865, Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College opened as a trade school designed to educate newly freed African Americans. The college became Alcorn State University in 1974. Today, it continues to offer more than forty different bachelor’s and master’s degrees to students from many different countries. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MISSISSIPPI SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE failed. African American economic power was not then sufficient to sustain them, and some local African American clergymen came out against the boycott which proved fatal to the effort. In one subtle act of resistance, African American citizens in the region formed chapters of the Grand Army of the Republic that stood in stark contrast to the wave of glorification of the Confederacy that prevailed at the time. There were five chapters in the area; two in Vicksburg, one in Warrenton (Warren County), one in Port Gibson, and one in Natchez. When African American veterans of the Union army marched on parade in their uniforms, they were a living reminder of a legacy of the brave actions of liberated slaves who fought for their freedom. Another form of resistance to the white power structure was simply to leave the South entirely. Between World War I and the end of the Civil Rights Movement, 6 millionAfrican American Southerners did just that in what has become known as the Great Migration. When the Great Migration began, 90 percent ofAfricanAmericans lived in the South. By the time it was finished, only 53 percent lived there. Area Musicians and Their Influence on America’s Music The Great Migration cost the Lower River region a lot of its native talent. For example, between 1909 and 1918, five of the finest musicians America ever produced were born in the Lower River counties. Jazz saxophonist Lester Young, who worked with Count Basie and close friend Billie Holliday, was born in 1909 in Woodville. Jazz bassist Milt Hinton was born in 1910 in Vicksburg. Bluesman Theodore “Hound Dog” Taylor was born in 1915 in Natchez. Willie Dixon, bluesman and composer of such Chicago blues standards as “Wang Dang Doodle” and “Hootchie Cootchie Man,” was born in 1915 in Vicksburg. Jazz pianist Hank Jones, father of the Detroit school of jazz pianists, was born in 1918 in Vicksburg. All five of them, alone or with their families, left the Lower River counties and the South for the North and there made their distinguished contributions to American music. Jazz was not the first foothold in show business for African Americans in the Lower River counties. Many first made their way into the entertainment business in large numbers through the institution of the minstrel show. These shows, filled with songs and jokes, were derogatory. They portrayed rural African Americans as unintelligent, and urban African Americans as flashy. Originally, before the Civil War, all the performers in minstrel shows were white. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, the all-black minstrel show had become an accepted part of the minstrel