In That Land of Perfect Day - Text 3
And yet, still they echo in the story of Mound Bayou's founding for which a 1910 New York Times headline once declared, "Ex-Slaves Dream of Model Negro Community Comes True - Where No White Man Can Own a Square Foot of Property." The subtext of the piece states that in 1887 when the town's founder, Isaiah T. Montgomery, sees his men begin to falter as they cleared the Delta's virgin forest, he proclaimed,
"Why stagger at the difficulties that confront you?
Have you and your forefathers not for centuries braved the miasma and hewn down forests at the command of your masters? Can you not perform the same heroic duty for yourselves and for your children unto successive generations, that they may worship and develop under their own vine and fig tree?"
These words to the dreams of enslaved generations and turned them into a reality filled with black bankers, doctors, and lawyers, but most importantly they were land owners free of the lesser stigmatized version of slavery known as share cropping. A Black American Dream in the very heart of a region now most recognized by its history of racial strife and violence. Mound Bayou became a promised land for freedmen, heralded by Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt as being the "shining example of Black achievement."