The Almanett Hotel in Gulfport is the only Black-owned hotel in southern Mississippi. In the late ’50’s and 60’s, it was also the site of a series of protests during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Organized by activist and Gulf Coast NAACP president Dr. Felix Dunn, Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr., Sandy Daniels and others led a series of protests along the 26 miles of federally-owned beaches known as the “Biloxi Wade-ins.”
These nonviolent protests were staged in response to the whites-only segregation of the beaches, including the ones that the Almanett overlooked. The response from white locals to the peaceful protesters was especially violent, sparking outrage from civil rights leaders nationwide. Dr. Dunn and Dr. Mason formed what would be eventually known as the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency.
This group filed one of the first-ever anti-discrimination lawsuits in U.S. history. The efforts of Dr. Dunn and Dr. Mason would eventually prove fruitful as the courts struck down the beach ban in 1968.
In 2007, Dr. Mason released the book, Beaches, Blood, and Ballots: A Black Doctor’s Civil Rights Struggle, detailing much of what happened during the Biloxi Wade-Ins and highlighting some of his powerful allies in their fight for equality.
The book also serves as Dr. Mason’s memoir, in where he shares how he came to focus his energies on combating Jim Crow laws.
(Photo: Almanett Hotel)