STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)-With the recent celebration of Starkville’s 175th birthday, another group of residents is honoring a part of town that has been around since 1870. WCBI’s Heather Black takes us back to a time where cars were carriages and roads were made of rocks. Its an historic part of Starkville. The territory from the Old Cotton Mill to Vine Street used to be known as the Needmore Community. Charles “LaLa” Evans has lived in this area for all of his long life. In almost 80 years, he’s seen his fair share of change. “When they look at it today, they might think it was prosperous and it looks good now. We’ve come a long way,” says Charles “LaLa” Evans.
The Needmore Community was one of Starkville’s earliest African American neighborhoods which was settled in the late 1800s with the construction of the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio railroad. “People came into Needmore to live and work on the railroad and later they progressed to MSU,” says Evans. The Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum has hundreds of photos on display. They tell the story of Needmore and celebrate its many contributions to the city. Thelma Matthews has also lived here all her life. She believes that it ” takes a village to raise a child” and Needmore is good example of that. “The fact that everybody looked after you and the fact that we had no money and few resources, but all the neighbors shared, shared food, shared whatever,” says Thelma Evans Matthews.
“We raised our families and we really had a family community you see. If you got in trouble or you were seen doing something wrong anywhere in town and your parents heard about it back in that day, you were in big trouble,” says Evans. Matthews couldn’t more pleased to see her community honored. “I’m very proud to have grown up in this community I’m very proud of the things that people who are descendent from the people of this community have accomplished over the years,” says Matthews. “The unveiling of the historical marker, This is just an historical proud neighborhood. We are just proud of it,” says Evans. There will be the unveiling of a plaque to honor the Needmore community along with festivities on Saturday at the George Evans Park in Starkville.