132 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI UNDER THE HILL Natchez used to be divided not by railroad tracks, but by the bluff that drops away to the Mississippi River. The part of Natchez that was below the bluff was called “Natchez Under the Hill” and was the site of saloons, taverns, gambling halls, and brothels that met the crews of the keelboats, flatboats, and steamboats docked at the port. Riverboat tours and floating casinos have once again made “Natchez Under the Hill” a bustling area for nightlife. PHOTOS COURTESY OF VISIT NATCHEZ Williams, “The general signaled the gun operator to demonstrate the gun’s mobility. He then stated that he wouldn’t hesitate to employ the gun and any other weapons to maintain the peace.” On September 2, 1965, the Natchez City Council with the approval of Mayor John Nosser rejected the African American community’s demands, and the African American community’s response was swift in coming. Charles Evers called for a boycott of white-owned Natchez stores. Since the African American population of the county was heavily concentrated in the City of Natchez, a boycott was a very dangerous economic threat. Any Natchez store subjected to it stood to lose half or more of its business. As the Mississippi National Guard pulled out of Natchez over the Labor Day weekend, the boycott began. It would soon spread to the adjoining counties. Enforcement of the boycott by African American leaders was strict and effective. Violators were subject to the disapproval of their neighbors and often had their names read out at mass meetings. A squad of enforcers was formed under the leadership of Korean War veteran Rudy Shields. Members watched stores under the boycott and confronted violators, often confiscating or destroying their purchases. On October 2, more than 300 people marched in Natchez to protest an injunction issued by a local judge against marching and picketing. The next day another 150 marched. All were arrested, and those arrested who were older than twelve were sent to Parchman Penitentiary. However, the unity of the African American community held, and the marches continued until the injunction was lifted. By October, it appeared that Mayor Nosser and the city council had agreed to meet most of the African American community’s demands, including those for new African American policemen, the use of courtesy titles by city employees, and the appointment of African Americans to the school board. However, two days later, Nosser publicly denied having agreed to any of the demands. Marches and demonstrations continued, and by late November, with the Christmas season approaching, Natchez merchants were alarmed. Six businesses had closed, and few wanted to face the prospect of Christmas withoutAfrican American trade. On December 3, in a press conference at Mayor Nosser’s office, NAACPleaders including Charles Evers announced the end of the boycott. Nosser, the city council, and twenty-three white merchants had come to an agreement to meet theAfricanAmerican community’s demands. Before December was out, the Natchez boycott began to inspire similar actions elsewhere in the Lower River counties. The first, in Fayette, county seat of Jefferson County, came to be known as the Black Christmas boycott. It followed the same pattern as the Natchez boycott. Charles Evers established himself as the leader. The same series of