NAACP Vicksburg Branch, residents honor civil rights hero Dr. David Foote

Published 9:26 am Monday, August 14, 2023

Members of the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP and area residents took time Saturday to honor a true civil rights hero: Dr. David D. Foote, one of the organizers of the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP.

Founded on June 9, 1918, the branch was the first NAACP branch in Mississippi. The two-part Saturday program began at Bethel A.M.E Church and closed with the unveiling of a historic marker outside 710 Cherry St., Foote’s home and the site of meetings to form the Vicksburg Branch.

During the program at Bethel, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said recognition for Foote was “a long time coming; about 115 years. We’re about to honor and celebrate the life of a courageous man.

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“I’m touched because we live in a time when we can do a pause and celebration to the oldest civil rights organization known to this country, the NAACP,” Flaggs said. “We stand on the shoulders of this awesome man (Foote). We honor this man because of his tenacity, his bravery, in a time of trouble. Let’s all join in celebration of his efforts.”

Born in 1879, Foote was a dentist in Vicksburg who joined with Dr. John Miller and pharmacist William P. Harrison to form a committee to find relief from paying war bonds during World War I.

After vigilantes called Miller for a hearing, he outlined the treatment of Black people in Vicksburg and asked for a change. After the hearing, attorney T.G. Ewing contacted the NAACP National Office, paving the way for the Vicksburg Branch and holding meetings at Foote’s home. Foote was a charter member and the branch’s first president. Miller was named chairman.

Former Vicksburg Mayor Robert Walker, who served as an NAACP field director, discussed the importance of the first branch, not just for Vicksburg but for the state.

“Someone was needed and it was three courageous men who had everything to lose to step up and say, ‘We will,’” Walker said.

Recalling Vicksburg and Warren County’s racial past, Walker said, “Vicksburg is not like it used to be, yet it’s not all that it can and should be. There’s still work to be done.”

One reason for the change in the political climate, he said, “Is because of things that the Vicksburg Branch of the NAACP was involved in and the list goes on. The NAACP in the state and the city has been responsible for that leadership.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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