Philadelphia mayor shares his role in history

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 6:12 PM CST
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PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) - Mississippi has many African-Americans who are trailblazers in their own right. One of those history makers is Philadelphia’s own Mayor James Young.

At the age of 11, Young was among the first children who integrated Neshoba County Schools under the “Freedom of Choice Plan.” He was the only Black 6th grader at Neshoba Central Elementary in 1967. He says he was intimidated by the process at first, but his interaction with the other students was not traumatic.

“At first, you learn to ignore it because it was not something constant. It was a bypass. Someone passing by and calling you the ‘n-word’ or something of that nature.” Young said, “But they were gone. They said it and they we’re gone. There was no confrontation. There was no in my face.”

Young says his family was his foundation through it all. He says his parents taught him to not fear.

“Our parents wanted that integration to be a success for change in our community.” Young said, “So, if we went out fighting and stirring up trouble, we would’ve fell right into the hands of those who said ‘they don’t belong.’ since we were pre-prepped for that. Our factors say, ‘I belong wherever I need to belong.”

Mayor Young carried that fearless mindset with him as he became the first black person elected to the Neshoba County Board of Supervisors.

Young was surprised when he later was elected as the first Black mayor of Philadelphia.

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