Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hollandale, Part Seven:

“When I was young we had a movie theater. The blacks sat upstairs.”
Howard Sanders, Retired Superintendent of Hollandale

The Holland Family founded Hollandale in the 1870’s. The town was founded on the banks of Deer Creek to take advantage of the cotton trade.

“Cotton would be transported on steamboats all the way down to New Orleans,” said Dr. Andy Mullins, the Special Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of Mississippi. “All these little tributaries and offshoots of the river would carry cotton.”

To take advantage of the cotton production in the area the Illinois Central Gulf ran train tracks through the town. This helped to create a growing industry in the town.

“Local rail boosters found much to praise in towns as small as Hollandale, which was found to contain splendid hotels, schools, and churches and conduct a magnificent business despite a population of only 250.” 1890 John Wilis, Forgotten Time, UVA Press, Page 108

“When I was young,” said Mr. Sanders, who was born in 1938, “we had a movie theater. The blacks sat upstairs. We had restaurants on Main Street. Four groceries right there. We had a passenger train that came right through Hollandale.”

In 1938 Mr. Emory Simmons, the former slave who started the first black school in Hollandale, procured a grant through the Rosenthal Foundation to build the current high school. “The Rosenthal Foundation built schools all over the Delta,” said Mr. Sanders. “That’s why so many have the same design, the same gym, and the same layout.”

The biggest event in the town’s history is integration. Integration was mandated in 1954 with the Supreme Court ruling of Brown versus the Board of Education. Integration was enforced in Mississippi in 1970.

In the late 1960’s there were two public high schools in Hollandale. Hollandale High School was the white school, located in the white section of town, on the banks of Deer Creek. Simmons High School was the black school, located across the train tracks and bookended to this day by cotton fields. With the enforcement of integration these schools were consolidated. Rather then let black children attend school at Hollandale High the school officials and white community members closed the school and razed the building. Deer Creek Academy was created in nearby Arcola and all the white students were moved there. In 2006 there were no white students at Simmons High School and no black students at Deer Creek Academy...

1 comment:

Joel Hebert said...

I've enjoyed your Hollandale series of blogs. You are like the Ken Burns of blogging about small Delta towns.