The self-styled “Freedom Boomer” who led the way for integration of Mississippi Coast public beaches was honored Saturday when a historic section of Beach Boulevard was named after him.
The late Dr. Gilbert R. Mason Sr. Memorial Highway is a two-mile stretch from the Biloxi Lighthouse to Rodenberg Avenue. That is where the black physician led the 1959 and early 1960s beach wade-ins that were Mississippi’s first civil disobedience protests.
The Mississippi native moved to Biloxi in 1955 and led the way in providing health care for minorities, championed voting rights and was the long-serving first president of the Biloxi NAACP.
The result of the wade-ins was a federal court ruled the beaches were public because public money was used after World War II to replenish badly eroded sand.