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Mon, 08.08.1864

Wayne Cox, Delta Businessman born

Wayne Cox

*Wayne Cox was born on this date in 1864. He was a Black teacher, administrator, and businessman.

He was born on the Griffin Plantation about four miles outside of Lexington, Mississippi.  At the age of fourteen, Wayne Wellington Cox began teaching, and by the time he was 16, had risen to the position of principal. He attended Alcorn A& M College, which had been opened for Blacks by the state ten years earlier.  He taught at the Indianola Colored Public School from 1884 to 1890 when he resigned to accept a clerical position with the United Railway Postal Service on a line running through Indianola (becoming first Black in that area to hold such a position).

A man with business savvy Cox saved his first $500.00 from teaching and in 1887 invested the entire amount to purchase 160 acres of land. The habit of buying and selling land became second nature, he always owned from 1,000 to 2,000 acres of fertile land, including some thirty-tenement houses. Also for five years Cox was chairman of the Republican Executive Committee of Sunflower County and in 1888, served as Indianola’s first Black Alderman. In September 1895, he helped found the Indianola Mercantile Company.

On October 29, 1904, Cox and his wife, Minnie, founded the largest Black bank in the State of Mississippi, Delta Penny Savings Bank of Indianola.  Five years later, he helped organize Mississippi Beneficial Insurance Company.  Cox served on the Board of Directors as Secretary Treasurer and continued in the position in 1910 when the state granted Mississippi Beneficial (capitalized at $100,000.00). This license to write all lines of life insurance made them the first stock insurance company to be organized by Blacks. Upon his death in April of 1916, Mrs. Cox succeeded him as Secretary-Treasurer.

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