History of Jacskon
The area of present-day Jackson was initially inhabited by the tribes of the Choctaw Nation. The first white settler was Louis LeFleur, a French Canadian trader. The area became known as LeFleur’s Bluff. In 1821, the Mississippi General Assembly decided to move the capital closer to the center of the state and sent explorers to find an appropriate place. As the exact center was swamped, the expedition moved along until they reached LeFleur’s Bluff and found it to be not only beautiful but also appropriate for the needs of the future state capital. The city was named after Andrew Jackson, who would later become the president of the USA, and the state legislature met for the first time in December 1822.
The first railway links to other cities arrived in 1840. Unlike some other large cities in the state, Jackson is not located on the Mississippi River, which is why it did not prosper from the river commerce and relied more on the railroads instead.
During the Civil War, Jackson was an important manufacturing center for the Confederates. The city saw a lot of battle and destruction during the war and it passed from the Union to the Confederates and vice versa several times. After the Union troops captured Jackson the second time, they burned it almost completely to the ground. Today there are only a few antebellum structures in the city, most notably the Old Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion.
The economic recovery of the city after the war was slow, however some progress was made, especially in transportation. Jackson changed significantly in the first decades of the 20th century, with new high rise buildings and improvement of the railroad. At the same time, oil and natural gas industry started developing and contributing significantly to the state and local economy.
Jackson has played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. As a typical Southern city, it had disfranchised Blacks in the past, especially with poll taxes. Even though laws and amendments solved those problems, at least on paper, racial tensions continued and culminated in the 1960s. In 1961, more than 300 Freedom Riders were arrested in the city while they demonstrated against racial segregation. In 1963, Medgar Evers, who was a civil rights activist, was murdered by a white supremacist. Disfranchisement and segregation subsided after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed. Still, when a black student by the name of James Meredith attempted to enroll at the desegregated University of Mississippi, the residents started a riot and the President Kennedy had to order the Army to place Jackson under martial law for one whole year.
Another racially motivated incident in the city was the bombing of the Beth Israel Congregation by the members of the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1970, two students were killed and twelve were wounded at Jackson State University during an anti-war protest.
Geography and Climate
Jackson is located on the Pearl River. Its territory belongs to three counties: Madison, Rankin and Hinds. The highest elevation in the city is 279 feet. The city sits atop the Jackson Volcano, which is, fortunately, extinct. The climate in the city is humid subtropical, with plenty of rain throughout the year, but especially in winter and spring. Slow is rare. Jackson is prone to thunderstorms, hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.
As for the population, the racial makeup in Jackson is 79.4% Black, 18.4% White, 1.6% Hispanic or Latino, 0.4% Asian and 0.1% Native American.
The economy in Jackson is based on electrical equipment, machinery, food processing and metal products. Major agricultural products include livestock, cotton, soybeans and poultry.
Some of the largest companies in the city include Egron, Cal-Maine Foods, EastGroup Properties, Parkway Properties and Trustmark Corporation.
Culture in Jackson
Major cultural institutions in Jackson include Mississippi Opera, Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet, Ballet Mississippi, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Municipal Art Gallery, Mississippi Arts Center, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jackson State University Botanical Garden, Russell C. Davis Planetarium, Smith-Robertson Museum and Cultural Center, Jackson Zoo and International Museum of Muslim Cultures. Other attractions in the city include Governor’s Mansion, State Capitol, Supreme Court, War Memorial Building, the Oaks House Museum, Mississippi Farmer’s Market and the Alamo Theater.
Jackson is a major center for gospel, blues and soul music. One of the major record companies is Malaco Records, famous for such acts as Johnnie Taylor, Dorothy Moore, Little Milton and Mississippi Mass Choir.
The city is also famous for the song “Jackson” performed by Johnny Cash and June Carter and also by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. Kid Rock also has a song “Jackson, Mississippi.”
Annual events of interest include Crossroads Film Festival, Festival Latino, OUToberfest, CelticFest and USA International Ballet Competition (every four years).
Institutions of higher education in Jackson include Jackson State University, Tougaloo College, Mississippi College, Mississippi College School of Law, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Antonelli College, Belhaven University and Virginia College.
The international headquarters of Phi Theta Kappa are located in Jackson.
Major highways in and around Jackson include I-20, I-55, I-220, U.S. Highways 49, 51 and 80 and Mississippi Highways 18 and 25. The city is also served by the Natchez Trace parkway, from Natchez to Nashville.
As for the railroad transportation, Jackson is served by Amtrak, Canadian National Railway and Kansas City Southern Railway.
The largest airport in the area is Jackson-Evers International, with non-stop service to 12 destinations in the USA.