Ruleville church marked for work with Civil Rights
by Paisley Boston
Nov 07, 2013 | 2657 views | 0 0 comments | 313 313 recommendations | email to a friend | print
William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Ruleville will receive a Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker at 10 a.m. on Nov. 16.

The church is located at the corner of OB Avenue and Elisha and Everett Langdon Street in Ruleville.

The Mississippi Development Authority Division of Tourism designated the church as 14th marker on the trail.

"I am delighted about the marker being placed in front of the church,” said Hattie Jordan, member of the Fannie Lou Hamer Committee.

"They have designated a number of places and people that made outstanding contributions in the Civil Rights movement. Places such as Bryant Grocery store, Medger Evers home, Greyhound Bus Station in Jackson, Mississippi State Penitentiary, Rust College, Tougaloo College and the Mississippi State Capital were some of the places where incidents occurred and they are significant to the Civil Rights movement," said Jordan.

In the 1960s William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church opened its doors to Civil Right workers to have meetings.

"They had citizenship classes to teach individuals about voting and the importance of voting. Classes were normally held after church services. Their primary concern was getting people registered to vote and explaining to them the importance of voting. They would have people to come in and listen to speakers who talked about the right to vote," added Jordan.

Amize Moore, an African American businessman from Cleveland, brought workers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to Sunday morning services to William Chapel.

"He was kind of like one of the Civil Rights leaders in Bolivar County," she added.

"Reverend Joe D. Story was the pastor during this time. He permitted mass meetings to take place at the time when churches were being bombed for such actions throughout the nation," said Jordan.

Fannie Lou Hamer attended these meetings and got involved with efforts to organize a voter registration initiative.

Her participation in a trip to the Sunflower County courthouse in Indianola was the beginning of her rise to prominence in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.

William Chapel suffered several repercussions for supporting Civil Rights activities; such as the mayor of Ruleville revoking the church’s free water and tax exemptions since the building was no longer being used exclusively for worship.

The marker is to be unveiled following a program held at the church beginning with a song from the William Chapel Choir, and then proceed to remarks by individuals who have been closely involved with the Fannie Lou Hamer Committee, such as Sen. Willie Simmons and Civil Rights Veteran Charles McLaurin.