Raymond Mcclinton
Raymond Mcclinton
  • May 20, 1914 - October 18, 2011
  • Mississippi

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On May 20, 1914, along the banks of the Tombigbee River at a site called Bladon Springs, AL, Raymond McClinton was born to Samuel Whtifield McClinton and Ella Clyda McDonald McClinton, both formerly of Coffeeville, AL. He was born at the Bladon Springs Hotel, managed by his parents; the healing sulphuric powers of the springs was a major tourist attraction at the time. After the hotel burned, the McClinton family in 1921 moved to Quitman, MS, where Sam McClinton became a leading merchant in downtown Quitman. One of our father's earliest memories of Bladon Springs, however, was in 1920 when the passage of the 19th Amendment gave women suffrage. His mother and other women gathered in white dresses in the town square to celebrate their voting rights.

As a teenager, the Superintendent of Education Clarence Hood took him around Clarke County and showed him the vitamin deficient disease called pellagra and its crippling effects on the lives of many of its citizens. Coupled with Mr. Hood confronting health issues in his county and the educational influence of his father who was President of the Clarke County School Board, when Raymond entered Millsaps College in the fall of 1932, he became a leader in educational and social justice issues penetrating the country at the time. He and other Millsaps students formed interracial meetings with students at Tougaloo College, the first of its kind in Mississippi. Raymond was President of the Student Body at Millsaps and ODK. In addition, he was President of the Southern Student YMCA with headquarters at the Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC.

After graduation from Millsaps College in 1936, he went to the University of North at Chapel Hill and wrote his M.A. thesis under the tutelage of Howard Odum and Rupert Vance, whose publications had become world renown in sociology and socio-geographical studies. Raymond decided to study the draconian effects of the sharecropping system from an economic point of view. UNC undergraduates Leroy and Walker Percy of Trail Lake Plantation, Leland, MS, introduced him to William Alexander Percy, who let Raymond examine all his ledgers detailing all aspects of sharecropping families working on lands at Trail Lake and Klondike, another Percy place.

Raymond finished his work in 1938, and it still stands as the only scholarly and definitive examination of sharecropping in the United States. (An original copy is archived at the William Winter Archives, Jackson, MS). In 1938, he married Rowena Green McRae of Jackson, MS, whom he had met at Millsaps; he worked at McRae's Department Store on Capitol Street until 1948, when he opened McClinton's Dry Goods on the corner of Amite and Farrish streets. In fall 1959, he opened another store at Delta Mart, near Freedom Corner, along Highway 49. Raymond had a profound sense of respect, honesty, and tolerance for all persons.

From his earliest days at Millsaps, he was very active at Galloway United Methodist Church, where he served many years on the Board of Stewards and then as president from 1968 to 1972. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he was also Finance Chairperson of the Committee to fund the building of African-American United Methodist churches in Mississippi. He also served on Jackson's United Givers Board of Directors for many years. In 1977 he retired from his life as a merchant and he and his wife Rowena enjoyed traveling, meeting people from various parts of the world, and being with their children and their families.

He is preceded by his wife Rowena Green McRae McClinton, who died May 5, 1997 and his four siblings. Raymond is survived by his son Raymond McClinton and his wife Sue of Asheville, NC and their son Danny and his wife Nancy and great-grandchildren, Josephine, Ava Sue, and Ruby McClinton, all of Asheville, NC; Frankie Ray Hollifield of San Francisco; and Miah McClinton of Ashevville. Raymond is also survived by his daughter Rowena McClinton of Edwardsville, IL, granddaughters Holly Ruff of Edwardsville, Rowena York Ruff of Lexington, KY, and Kathryn Hildreth of Hollis, NH, and her husband Tom and great-grandchildren, Rowen, Raymond, Charlie, and Caroline Hildreth. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church, 305 North Congress Street, Jackson, MS 39201; the Samuel Whitfield and Ella McClinton Scholarship Fund at Millsaps College, Institutional Advancement, 1701 N. State Street, Jackson, MS, 39210; the United Negro College Fund, 8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 10444, Fairfax, VA 22031-8044; or Tougaloo College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 500 West County Line Road, Tougaloo College, MS 39174.

The family requests visitation to be in Raymond's home from 4:00 to 7:00 PM, Friday. A celebration service will be held at 2:00 PM at Galloway United Methodist Church, 305 North Congress Street. The family welcomes everyone to participate.