Shake Rag: An oasis of Black culture in 1960s Tupelo

Shake Rag is one of Tupelo’s most popular, historical Black communities.

Posted: Feb 4, 2021 10:40 AM

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - Shake Rag was one of Tupelo’s most popular, historical Black communities.

The community’s culture and music went on to inspire musical legends such as Elvis Presley.

Shake Rag was an old Black community in Tupelo.

It also contributed to an entire era of Black excellence still thriving to this day.

Luevern Agnew grew up in Shake Rag in the 1960s and often looks back on that time in the neighborhood.

"I look at this being called Shake Rag because the house to me was shaky and raggedy. It was just a rough time back then."

Related - Shake Rag on the Mississippi Blues Trail

It was a rough time, but not a sad time.

"It was never a time that you would go to a neighbor and say that you need something but couldn't get it."

Shake Rag was also a hot spot for jazz and entertainment.

Big names like Nap Hayes and Benny Sharp played in Shake Rag.

Shake Rag became an oasis of Black culture during a turbulent time when many fought for racial equality in the South.

"They looked for a community that would be a better community but yet a community for them.”

An urban renewal project in the 1960s included the demolition of Shake Rag and the relocation of its residents.

Councilwoman Nettie Davis said the relocation greatly affected the tight-knit community.

Now a local park, Agnew still looks back on her childhood home with fond memories.

"It is so awesome just to be able to look back where you come from and see it as a great place," Agnew said.

Even though Shake Rag is gone, people still thrive on relationships made there.

Davis said the lessons she learned inspired her to make history herself to become Tupelo's first Black councilwoman.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Showers linger across the area as a cold front passes Wednesday afternoon. This will keep temperatures far cooler than average. Some of these showers may linger into the overnight as well.
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