A. M. E. Logan, the Mother of the Jackson Civil Rights Movement, was born A. M. E. Marshall in 1915 in Myles, in Copiah County. She was the eighth of twelve children of Nellie Carrie Jane Rembert Marshall and John Collins Marshall. Her father was an African Methodist Episcopal minister with great love for the church, leading her parents to name her A. M. E. Most of Marshall’s formative years were spent in the Carpenter community in Hinds County. Frequent childhood illnesses prevented her from completing high school, but she later earned a diploma from the American School of Correspondence in Chicago. She inherited her work ethic, passion for helping others, and economic independence from her father. After marrying Style Logan in 1932 and starting a family, she instilled those same values in her four children, Style Jr., Vivian, Shirley, and Willis.
A. M. E. Logan moved to Jackson with her family in October 1943, working as a cashier at Campbell College and later for the Illinois Central Railroad Station. In 1954 Logan’s presence in the community grew when she began selling A. W. Curtis Rubbing Oil, developed by scientist George Washington Carver. With an acute understanding of the importance of social, political, and economic freedom, Logan encouraged her customers to join the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and register to vote as she went door-to-door selling her product.
During a tumultuous time for black Mississippians, Logan made a profound impression on civil rights activists who arrived in the capital city in May and June 1961. On 29 May 1961 Logan assisted Clarie Collins Harvey in forming Womanpower Unlimited, a Jackson-based organization that provided a safety net, motherly nurturing, and support to the Freedom Riders who were testing the integration of interstate transportation in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s 1960 Boynton v. Virginia decision. As the executive secretary for Womanpower Unlimited, Logan opened her home to hundreds of young men and women, provided clothing and other essentials to activists detained at Parchman Penitentiary, and called parents to inform them that their children were safe. Logan often solicited support for these efforts through her door-to-door sales.
Logan served as the first secretary of the Jackson branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was a member of the Jackson branch of the NAACP. In an effort to make quality education available for all of the city’s black children, Logan joined Medgar and Myrlie Evers and other parents in filing a 1963 petition to desegregate the Jackson Municipal Schools.
Logan was also active in the Order of the Eastern Star, the Elks, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and well into her nineties she checked on her neighbors and others in her community and sold products door-to-door for Avon. In August 2010 the company recognized her as the oldest salesperson in its history. She died on 5 February 2011 after falling at home. She was believed to have been ninety-six years old, but whenever she was asked about her age or date of birth, she responded, “I am as old as my tongue, and a little older than my teeth!”
- A. M. E. Logan, interview by Daphne R. Chamberlain and Freddi W. Evans (2009–10)
- A. M. E. Logan, interview by Tiyi Morris (n.d.)
- Clarie Collins Harvey, interview by John Dittmer and John Jones, Mississippi Department of Archives and History (21 April 1981)
- Daphne R. Chamberlain, “‘And a Child Shall Lead the Way’: Children’s Participation in the Jackson, Mississippi, Black Freedom Struggle, 1946–1970” (PhD dissertation, University of Mississippi, 2009)
- Tiyi M. Morris, Womanpower Unlimited and the Black Freedom Struggle in Mississippi (2015)
- Tiyi M. Morris, in Groundwork: Local Black Freedom Movements in America, ed. Komozi Woodard and Jeanne Theoharis (2005)