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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, John Roy Lynch!

John Roy Lynch was born on this day 168 years ago; he came into life a slave on 10 September 1847 near Vidalia, Louisiana. His father ran the plantation and his mother was a slave. From this humble and repressive beginning, he rose to prominence in Reconstruction-era politics in Mississippi, surely the grandfather of the Civil Rights Movement in our great state. He became an outspoken voice of calm, rallying for the civil rights of African-Americans and denouncing violent White Rights groups who were terrorizing the South.
  • Lynch was appointed Justice of the Peace in Natchez in 1869.
  • That same year, he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. He was named Speaker of the House in January of 1872 when he was just 24, the first African-American to hold that position.
  • At 26, Lynch was elected as the youngest member of the 43th US Congress (1873-1875.) He went on to serve two more terms (the 44th and 47th Congresses.)
  • Lynch wrote two books in during his lifetime, The Facts of Reconstruction and Reminiscences of an Active Life, his autobiography. Both books are available at the Mississippi Library Commission. 
Poster promoting The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynchwritten by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate
Earlier this year, Eerdmans published a picture book biography of Lynch, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. It was written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate. You can read our review here. If you'd like to learn more about John Roy Lynch, check out this short biography here.

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