Grace Sweet and Benjamin Bradley Talk About the Once Elite Black Community of Jackson, MS in Book, ‘Church Street’

Grace Sweet and Benjamin Bradley have partnered to author “Church Street: The Sugar Hill of Jackson, Mississippi.” They are pictured outside Mount Helm Baptist Church, a long-time Church Street landmark. (Photo: Joe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger)
Grace Sweet and Benjamin Bradley have partnered to author “Church Street: The Sugar Hill of Jackson, Mississippi.” They are pictured outside Mount Helm Baptist Church, a long-time Church Street landmark.
(Photo: Joe Ellis/The Clarion-Ledger)

It was a chance meeting three years ago that brought Jackson residents Grace Sweet, 82, and Benjamin Bradley, 79, together for the first time, even though they’d grown up just blocks apart.

That first conversation ultimately led to the publication of an inside look back at a once-elite African-American section of downtown Jackson during the 1930s to 1950s.

“Church Street: The Sugar Hill of Jackson, Mississippi” reveals a once-thriving community where dozens of black families — professionals, for the most part — lived, worked, attended church, raised their families and enjoyed a nightlife that regularly boasted appearances by some of the biggest celebrity names in black entertainment of the time.

Published by History Press, the book highlights prominent families and community leaders, recalls bustling businesses, and even retells many “wives’ tales” and scandals once familiar to the locals. In the end, it chronicles the decline of the area as families moved away and times changed.

Today both authors still make their homes in Jackson. Sweet now lives on Old Canton Road. The mother of three, she has nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Bradley and his wife Amanda live in the Shady Oaks area and are the parents of two grown children.

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Source: Clarion Ledger | Jana Hoops

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