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Celebrating African-American Mississippians

Celebrating African-American Mississippians

Often called the “Birthplace of American Music,” the state is woven of a patchwork of influences, including huge contributions to the arts by Mississippians of African ancestry.

To honor February’s Black History Month, we acknowledge the following notable African-American musicians, singers, artists, actors, writers, and other culture-builders who were either born in the state or chose it for their home.

If you see a name on our list that you don’t recognize, February is the perfect month to spend a few moments researching that person, learning with your child about people who have had a hand in shaping the culture of Mississippi … and of the nation.


Sam Cooke (1931-1964) — Soul singer/songwriter (born in Clarksdale)

Bo Diddley (1928-2008) — R&B singer/songwriter/guitarist (born in McComb)

Morgan Freeman (1937- ) — Actor/director (lives in Charleston)

Robert Johnson (1911-1938) — Blues singer/songwriter/guitarist (born in Hazlehurst)

Robert L. Johnson (1946- ) — Founder of BET, Black Entertainment Television (born in Hickory)

James Earl Jones (1931- ) — Actor (born in Arkabutla)

B.B. King (1925-2015) — Blues guitarist/singer/songwriter (from Itta Bena)

Leontyne Price (1927- ) — Opera singer/soprano (born and raised in Laurel)

Charley Pride (1938- ) — Country singer (born in Sledge)

Robin Roberts (1960- ) — News broadcaster (grew up in Pass Christian)

Tavis Smiley (1964- ) — Talk show host (born in Gulfport)

Ike Turner (1931-2007) — Musician/songwriter (born in Clarksdale)

Muddy Waters (1913-1983) — Blues musician/singer (believed born in Issaquena County)

Oprah Winfrey (1954- ) — Actress/talk show host/producer (born in Kosciusko)

Richard Wright (1908-1960) — Author (born in Roxie/Natchez)


Compiled By Parents & Kids Editors

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