Writer Eudora Welty, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter, was born in Jackson in 1909 and spent almost her entire adult life there. Her travels throughout the state as a photographer for the federal Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s captured the experience of economic depression by both white and African American Mississippians. During World War II, Welty devoted much of her time to the Red Cross and the USO before returning to writing. Welty remained troubled by the racial climate that followed the war. Her literary contributions typically illuminated the complexities of small southern towns, their people and their culture. Occasionally, Welty would engage the racial dynamics of her home state through short stories like “Powerhouse” and essays such as “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” Welty was fascinated by African American music, religion, and culture and spent time on Farish Street, a business district in Jackson near Jackson State College. From the 1910s through the 1970s, Farish Street was a hub of business and entertainment for African American Jacksonians. Civil rights leader Medgar Evers rented his first office space there, shortly after his appointment as the state’s NAACP field secretary in 1954. Theaters, dance halls, restaurants, hospitals, and other businesses made the district a vibrant center of African American commerce. In Rankin County, the “Gold Coast” reflected similar patterns, and African American and white interaction was not unknown. Formerly known as East Jackson, the Gold Coast was a center for illegal gambling, bootleg liquor, and live music, and it drew patrons of all races. Local singers Sam Meyers and King Mose performed to hundreds in clubs like the Blue Flame and the Rocket Lounge. The vibrancy with which African American culture and business thrived in places like the Gold Coast and Farish Street, underscored the complexities of segregation in the Capital Area. African American-owned businesses and cultural districts could serve as spaces of liberation and empowerment. However, such cracks in the walls of segregation remained the exception. In the daily practices of towns and cities across the area white power reigned unchallenged. In light of postwar stresses to that system, its network of politics, economy and institutional surveillance became hardened. Nowhere was this reinforcement of the norm more visible than in the capital city itself where a collusion of media and politics combined to delay civil rights reforms. The first two television stations in the state, WJTV and WLBT, were founded in 1953 in Jackson. The former was owned by the Hederman family through the Mississippi Publishers Association (MPA). The MPA also owned Jackson’s two daily newspapers, The Clarion-Ledger and THALIA MARA HALL Built in 1968 and originally known as the Jackson Municipal Auditorium, Thalia Mara Hall attracts thousands of Jacksonians and visitors from around the world each year. Plans for the facility as it is used today began during the mid- 1970s when world-renowned performer from Chicago, Thalia Mara, accepted an invitation from the Jackson Ballet Guild to establish a professional ballet company and school in Mississippi, with performances to be housed in the auditorium. In 1979, at the recommendation of Thalia Mara, Congress named Jackson the United States home for the International Ballet Competition. The Jackson City Council voted to rename the auditorium for Thalia Mara in 1994. Today, with seating for more than 2,000 people, Thalia Mara Hall remains the municipal auditorium for the City of Jackson and is managed by the Department of Human and Cultural Services. In addition to serving as the home for the IBC once every four years, Thalia Mara Hall hosts a variety of events including operas, concerts, and plays. the Jackson Daily News. These media outlets became outspoken defenders of segregation and gave editorial support to the Citizens’ Council, the leading organization for white resistance to civil rights in the state. As organized African American activism became more visible in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, Jackson-based newspapers and television stations helped shore up the segregationist position throughout the state. Some of the most visible confrontations between white authority and African American activism happened in the capital city. On March 27, 1961, nine students from PHOTO COURTESY OF IMANI KHAYYAM, JACKSON FREE PRESS THE CAPITAL AREA 231