Eunice C. Smith told a rapt audience about the little-known story of descendants of Newton Knight, a Confederate deserter who led a biracial resistance in Mississippi during the Civil War, at a meeting of the Lawnside Historical Society Thursday night.
She showed segments of the 2016 “The Free State of Jones” and her role as an extra discussed family research and books about the band of men, women and children that lived in Jones County in open defiance. He was quoted to say the Civil War was a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight.
She gave away copies of the film and sold books. She also made a pitch for Lawnsiders especially in light of our history to watch Underground drama series on WGN TV on Wednesday nights. The new season, centered on freedom-seekers escaping from slavery along the UGRR, started March 8. Follow the show on Twitter along with the Historical Society @LawnsideHistory.
The Society presented a plaque and photo of William A. Walden, who passed away in December to his wife Sharon during the evening. William’s discovery of Harlem Renaissance writer Jessie Redmon Fauset as a Lawnside resident led to annual observances of her birthday and an annual poetry competition. Portraying Uncle Willie the Clown, he was a fixture at local community events. He led the Lawnside Heritage Day parade as grand marshall in 2016. Several members of his family were on hand for the presentation.