John J. Nosser, Mayor of Natchez from 1962 to 1968, was born in Lebanon in 1899 and immigrated to the United States in 1919. Mississippi welcomed a number of Lebanese immigrants who became some of the most successful businessmen in their communities. Nosser opened his first Natchez grocery store, the Natchez Super Store, in 1940.
By the mid-1960s John Nosser was operating three grocery stores and had developed a shopping complex known as Nosser City between St. Catherine and Franklin Streets.2 John Nosser was mayor during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement. The African American community did not trust him and the Ku Klux Klan bombed his home and stores due to his hiring of blacks and his willingness to negotiate with the NAACP.
Nosser always remained upbeat about Natchez., despite political disappointment and personal tragedies. In a newspaper interview when he was 85 he stated, "The past is not as important as the future." John Nosser died in 1989.
Pictured above is the 1940 grand opening of John Nosser's Natchez Super Store in the 600 block of Main Street. The photographer stood across the street in Memorial Park.
On September 25, 1964, Klansmen bombed and damaged the home (above) of Mayor John Nosser at 207 Linton Avenue. Shortly afterwards, a second bomb exploded in the front yard of Willie Washington,
an African American contractor who sometimes worked for Nosser.
On December 3, 1965, Mayor John J. Nosser of Natchez, Miss., and Charles Evers, NAACP Field Director for Mississippi, jointly announced the.... settlement of a three-month boycott of downtown merchants....The agreement represents an upgrading of the status of the Negro community unparalleled in the settlement of any similar protest in a southern city.
"The Natchez Agreement," as it was titled, was published in its entirety in the January 1966 issue of The Crisis
, the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In 1965 the Ku Klux Klan bombed John Nosser's Giant Discount Center (above and below right) that stood on North Martin Luther King Street.
Before we lacked the courage to speak out. Now we don't care. We have to.
John J. Nosser, Eulogy for Wharlest Jackson, murdered Civil Rights activist, Life Magazine
, March 17, 1967.
Mayor John Nosser and his family (above) celebrate the grand opening of the Jitney Jungle #1 grocery store at Nosser City (clipping below). Left to right are Pete Nosser, Sr., Frances Nosser, George Nosser, Sr., John J. Nosser, LaWare Nosser, Josephine Nosser Thompson, and C. H. Thompson.
The Nosser City Shopping Center occupied a tract of land bordered by St. Catherine Street on the north and East Franklin Street on the south.
Over time the complex included the Jitney Jungle #1 grocery store, Sterlings variety store, Value Mart Dollar Store, Allen Furniture Company, CIT Financial Services, Grand Prize Redemption Center, Fashionaire Beauty Shop, a branch bank of City Bank and Trust Company, and the doctor's office of Dr. Homer Whittington.The development of new strip malls with chain anchor stores, a large enclosed mall, chain grocery stores, and new residential development in the suburbs caused the demise of Nosser City and Nosser's Natchez Super Store in downtown Natchez.