Isaac Simmons: The Black Minister Brutally Lynched by a White Mob for His 220-Acre Land in 1945

Reverend Isaac Simmons was a Black preacher and farmer from Amite County, Mississippi, who was murdered by a gang of white men in 1945 for his land, which was rumoured to contain oil deposits.

Isaac Simmons, the Black Minister Lynched by a White Mob for His 220-Acre Land in 1945Born in 1879, Reverend Simmons inherited a 220-acre farm from his grandfather, Anthony Simmons, who passed away in 1929. For decades, Reverend Simmons and his family peacefully cultivated the land, living off its resources and building a sense of community. However, their peace was shattered when rumors surfaced about potential oil deposits beneath their property, igniting the insatiable greed of certain individuals in the predominantly white community.

The trouble began in 1942 when attempts to seize the Simmons’ land intensified, fueled by the prospect of lucrative oil reserves. Despite Reverend Simmons’ efforts to protect his family’s inheritance by seeking legal counsel, the threat loomed large over their heads.

In February 1944, while harvesting timber from the property, Rev. Simmons and his son Eldridge encountered two white men who threatened Simmons, warning him not to cut any more timber off the land. Acknowledging the threat, Rev. Simmons wrote to his lawyer seeking further legal counsel, and his lawyer urged him to halt timber extraction until the problem could be resolved.

On the morning of March 28th, 1945, a group of six white men attacked the Simmons family’s property with the intent of seizing what they coveted. They kidnapped Rev. Simmons and his son Eldridge, subjecting them to torture. Later, they took his son Eldridge to another location where they threatened him to leave the land and evict his tenants within ten days before releasing him.

Injured and partially blinded, Eldridge managed to reach his sister’s house. Soon, word spread, prompting neighbors and members of the church to initiate a search for Rev. Simmons. Eventually, they discovered him in the bush, lifeless and in a grim state. His body lay partially on its side, bearing three gunshot wounds to the back and a broken arm. His teeth were mostly shattered, and his tongue had been brutally severed.

The aftermath of Reverend Simmons’ lynching reverberated throughout the community, sparking outrage and fear among Black residents who recognized the impunity with which white supremacists operated.

Three days later, Reverend Simmons was laid to rest, and his grieving family fled their home, leaving behind not only their land but also the memories of their beloved patriarch. Not long after they left, the perpetrators seized control of the coveted land. Despite a later criminal trial that resulted in the indictment of one of the assailants, Noble Ryder, justice remained elusive for the Simmons family, as Ryder was acquitted by an all-white jury.

In the aftermath, the Simmons family encountered persistent obstacles in reclaiming their ancestral land, facing repeated setbacks due to legal barriers like statutes of limitations. This petition, advocating for the return of their land, highlights their ongoing struggle, revealing the entrenched legal obstacles and systemic injustices that obstruct their path to reclaiming rightful ownership.

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.


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