About this postcard
The Biloxi wade-ins were three protests that were conducted by local African Americans on the beaches of Biloxi, Mississippi between 1959 and 1963, during the civil rights movement. The demonstrations were led by Dr. Gilbert R. Mason, Sr. in an effort to desegregate the city's 26 mi (42 km) of beaches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This was a local effort, without involvement from the state or national NAACP. Before the beaches were desegregated, adjacent homeowners claimed the beaches as private property. However, Mason and his supporters noted that the beaches had been built in a major project completed in 1953 by the Army Corps of Engineers using taxpayer funds, and so thought they should be public and available to all. The new beaches had increased tourist traffic to the Biloxi area, strengthening the local economy. The effort by local authorities to maintain segregation was supported by actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a state agency founded in 1956. It used its extensive investigative powers to spy on citizens and plan economic retaliation against those who were civil rights activists or suspected of being so. These activities were secret for many decades; the commission's records were sealed until 1998.