This all-Black team in Mississippi’s private academy league is making history

GREENVILLE — Little more than a half century ago, Mississippi’s public high schools, forced by federal law, integrated. Private schools, including Greenville Christian School, sprang up all over the state. You know why. White parents didn’t want their children to go to school — or play sports — with Black children.

Rick Cleveland

A new, then-strictly segregated sports league was formed. The Mississippi Private School Association (MPSA) has since become the Mid-South Association of Independent Schools (MAIS). And now, five decades later, the best football team in the league — and perhaps the best in the league’s history — is Greenville Christian, an all-Black team.

With just 35 players on the roster and training in spartan facilities, the Greenville Christian Saints opened this season on the road with a 58-32 trouncing of Madison-Ridgeland Academy, two-time defending MAIS 6A state champions. A week later, the Saints returned to the Jackson area and ransacked traditional academy powerhouse Jackson Prep 48-13. It was the worst home defeat in Prep history. Last Friday night, Greenville Christian clobbered J.Z. George High School of North Carrollton, a Class 2A public school, 58-0.