Black History: Special Delivery!!

Carroll County Courthouse – Carroll County, MS

On March 17, 1886, in Carroll County, Mississippi, 23 people lost their lives in the “Carroll County Courthouse Massacre”. The circumstances leading up to the massacre occurred in January 1886 when two brothers Ed and Charley Brown dropped molasses on Robert Moore, a white man. The brothers transporting the molasses to a saloon. Ed and Charley were of Native American and African American ancestry. The situation was initially resolved without incident. Moore did mention the incident to a friend as well as Carollton attorney James Liddell. Liddell decided to take matters into his on hands.
Liddell challenged Ed and Charley, accusing them of dropping the molasses on Robert Moore intentionally. The men began to argue but the verbal altercation was broken up by bystanders before it became physical. Later in the day, Liddell heard that the Brown brothers had been speaking negatively about him, after which an argument ensued. The argument resulted in shots being fired. All 3 men were wounded. The Brown brothers pressed charges against Liddell for attempted murder. The white residents of the town were not happy that black men had decided to press charges against a white person.
On the day of the trial, March 17, 1886, over 50 white men armed with guns ran into the courtroom and began firing at the Brown brothers and other blacks in attendance. The Brown brothers were killed. Other blacks in the courtroom tried to escape by jumping out of second floor windows but were shot by armed white men outside of the courthouse. 23 blacks lost their lives during the massacre. No whites were injured. There were no arrests from the incident nor was anyone ever charged. Bullet holes on the courtroom walls were not covered until the courthouse renovation in the early 1990s. Governor Robert Lowry stated that the “riot” was initiated by the the “conduct of negroes”. News of the massacre received national press attention. However, there was no formal investigation of the incident. African American U.S. Senator Blanche K. Bruce requested federal action from President Grover Cleveland. The president denied his request. The massacre has received little attention and remains unsolved.