This is an account of Rod Nicholson, a then naïve, young, African-American professional man born, raised, and educated in the Midwest, who came to Mississippi by way of Chicago to begin his married life and start a family. This is his perspective of Southern culture, politics, and race from an outsider’s viewpoint. Eventually, Rod and his family moved to the quaint little town of Terry, Mississippi. Less than two years after arriving in Terry, Rod was encouraged to run for and won a seat on the town’s Board of Aldermen. Four years later, Rod Nicholson ran for mayor, becoming the town’s first African-American mayor. Mayor Rod Nicholson was reelected to two additional four-year terms in a town with roughly an even distribution of black and white residents.
For a number of years, things appeared to go smoothly for this part-time mayor. Being a civil engineer by training, Mayor Rod had a skill set that enabled him to successfully secure funding for a number of much needed infrastructure improvements for this town that seemed to have a lot of potential but apparently had languished in neglect for decades. And his efforts did seem to be appreciated by the rank-and-file residents from all walks of life in this small town. However, not everyone was happy with this new mayor and the bold changes that he championed. As time went by, it became apparent that beneath the gentile façade of the townsfolk, there lay a more sinister side where race permeated every facet of life in a closed society that apparently was unable or willing to change. This is Mayor Roderick Nicholson’s real-life account of these experiences. Positive and negative. And in his own words.