Banners on 5th Street recognize African Americans in Meridian

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:16 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The Queen City is honoring local African Americans who have made a difference. About a dozen banners depicting the names and faces of locals who paved the way for others and distinguished themselves line the streets in the city’s Historic African American District.

Names like Jamal Roberts, Twisted Genius, and even David Ruffin hang on these light poles right behind me.

“We’re highlighting historic people. We’re talking about people who have been in government, business, entertainment, and athletics. These are people who have paved the way for others in the city of Meridian,” said Mayor Percy Bland.

The signs were posted last month up and down 5th street. Each sign tells a story of the struggles that person had to endure before they were successful.

“We have some historic people who have done a lot of great things in this area for the state of Mississippi. We are recognizing them in downtown. That is what it is all about and the symbols that make, an impact. Hopefully, the symbolic piece of these banners will be what people remember every time they ride up and down 5th street,” said Bland.

Mayor Percy Bland said these banners give us a glimpse of Black America and their contributions both locally and nationally.

One person who didn’t want to show his face on camera named his hero would like to see on a banner in the future.

“I would like to see Charles Young because he is a black person that came out of my neighborhood,” said local.

The mayor said this is one way the city can honor these important people.

“I never thought I would see this happening in Meridian, but it’s happening,” said Henry Ruffin.

I spoke with one person that is related to the singer David Ruffin. He said he is grateful that the city is highlighting him in this way.

“I feel proud. I am a Ruffin from Choctaw County. I saw David one time in my life back in 1968. He was talking with my father in front of the house. He came back over and say there are the Ruffin boys. He didn’t know I was around the house. I meant him one time in my life back in 1968,” said Ruffin.

Mayor Bland said more banners will be unveiled in the Redline, known as the birthplace of Meridian’s African-American community.

Names like Jamal Roberts, Charles Young, Sr., Twisted Genius and David Ruffin are displayed.
The signs were posted last month on 5th Street downtown. Each sign tells a story of that person’s road to success.

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