The Life and Death of Davis Knight after State vs. Knight (1948)

With filming of the Free State of Jones soon to begin, and with the announcement that Louisiana’s oldest courthouse, located in downtown Clinton in Feliciana Parish, will be the film site for the Davis Knight miscegenation trial, I’m reblogging the following essay, originally posted in 2009.

Renegade South

By Vikki Bynum

The Ellisville Courthouse, Ellisville, Mississippi, where Davis Knight was tried and found guilty of miscegenation. The Ellisville Courthouse, Ellisville, Mississippi, where Davis Knight was tried and found guilty of miscegenation. Photo by Victoria Bynum.

Davis Knight, the great-grandson of the infamous “Free State of Jones” guerrilla, Newt Knight, became the centerpiece of his own drama some 25 years after the death of his notorious ancestor. Although Davis was descended from Newt and his wife, Serena, both of whom were white, he was also the great-grandson of Rachel Knight, a former slave of Newt’s grandfather. And although Davis was white in appearance, because of his descent from Rachel, he was defined as black by his white neighbors. Some of those neighbors did not take kindly to Davis Knight’s marriage in 1946 to Junie Lee Spradley, a local white woman. In 1948, Davis ended up in court, accused of having married across the color line (a crime in several states until 1967). Despite a vigorous…

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2 replies »

  1. Please note: To read this entire post, including earlier and later comments, click on “view original”, above.

    Vikki Bynum

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