The Ballad of S.S. Mincey - Part 2 of 3

May 01, 2019 by jw

On March 16, 1997 Peter Scott, staff writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote a small, yet compelling story entitled "NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN". What makes this story so compelling, especially for the African-American families of Montgomery County, Georgia, is how it touches on the life and documents the reason for the death of one of our best -- The Honorable Simon Shelton Mincey. Furthermore, it gives us more than an idea of when the observerance of "The First Monday in August" started, but why it started, and whom this memorial was centered around. This is the article, as printed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1997, by Peter Scott. Part 2 of 3

NOT TO BE FORGOTTEN

The whites who killed Mincey wanted a lilly-white political party. In southern Georigia, violence against blacks was literally woven into the fact of daily life. One newspaper once called it Piney Woods hell.

Fitzhugh Brundage

For Mincey, the beating must have seemed like hell. A newspaper account in the Vidalia Adavance said most of the skin had been lashed from his back. County school board chairman Milburn "Sugarpie" McRae, 77, said his father told him that Mincey was kicked so hard that shoe impressions were embedded in his chest and his clothing had to be picked out of his skin.

Floggings and lynchings were common forms of intimidation during the era.

The brutal acts that some respected whites would not do themselves, the Klan, which was organized in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, would do. Although at least 4,000 blacks had been lynched before Mincey was killed, hundreds more lynchings took place after his death, according to officials at Tuskegee University (formerly Tuskegee Institute), where lynchings are chronicled.

Isaiah McCloud, 83, said one of his cousins in nearby Mount Vernon, Georgia was flogged because he ran a pressing club (similar to a laundry mat/dry cleaners) that was doing better business than a white competitor's.

We were sort of scarified then. Whites woud meet you on the road and beat you up for nothing.

Isaiah McCloud

The Klan scared many blacks away from the polls. Mcloud and other blacks here, about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, kept voting and kept Mincey in power. Although Mincey's position in the Republican Party added to his clout, he also was respected for his leadership. If someone black was in need, he would organize the community to help. Mincey's formal schooling was three months long, Curry said. He helped the community acquire the Rosenwald School for blacks here. He had ten children and seven grandchildren, said Curry, a retired drapery installer.

Mincey could go into any store and set up accounts. He was never insulted by being called "boy" but was always addressed by his last name as a sign of respect, Curry said. He accompanied his grandfather throughout town and around the state.

Besides owning his own farm, Mincey was Treasurer of the Widows and Orphans department of the Negro Masonic Lodge of Georgia and received a $100-a-month salary. That was during a time when Cokes were a nickel, sugar was a nickel per pound and sixty-five pounds of flour cost a quarter. Through is Masonic connections he became friends with such civic and political leaders as Atlantans John Wesley Dobbs and Ben Davis, and Sol C. Johnson of Savannah.

I don't know all of what he was doing at the time, but black people would do what he said when it came to voting.

Solomon Curry

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; March 16, 1997
Section: DIXIE LIVING
Edition: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Page: M3
Staff Writer: Peter Scott
Ailey, Georgia