Tuesday, May 07, 2013

UIS political science Professor Matthew Holden Jr. to lead Mississippi symposium

Matthew Holden, Jr., the Wepner Distinguished Professor in Political Science at the University of Illinois Springfield, will lead a symposium in recognition of Isaiah T. Montgomery, the co-founder of Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

The symposium, entitled “The World and the Mind of Isaiah T. Montgomery: The Greatness of a Compromised Man”, is scheduled for May 21, 2013 in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

Isaiah T. Montgomery was born into slavery on Joseph Davis, the president of the Southern Confederacy, brother’s plantation in 1847. He would in 1887 co-found Mound Bayou, one of the first African American towns in the south.

In 1890, Montgomery was the only black delegate at the Mississippi Constitutional Convention. He spoke for, and voted for, the Constitution that became the legal bedrock of the rigid racial order in which black voting was reduced to a very low level.

Montgomery achieved such national stature that he was the designated spokesmen of the freed people when the Abraham Lincoln monument was dedicated in Kentucky in 1909. When Montgomery died in 1924, his passing was reported in The New York Times.

Professor Holden's "dominating theme is that Montgomery was a very great man, though imperfect as human beings must be, with a mind that reached far beyond his contemporaries, black or white, and deserves serious re-evaluation, both in the Delta and outside."

Holden has spent much of the past ten years studying Montgomery’s political strategy and is currently finishing a book. He and his wife have created the Isaiah T. Montgomery Studies Project.

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