Memphis Moments
5:52 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

R.Q. Venson And The Cotton Makers Jubilee

  In March of 1934, Dr. R.Q. Venson, a Beale Street dentist, took his nephew to a Cotton Carnival parade. While at the parade, his nephew pointed-out that, “the negroes were horses,” meaning that black men were pulling the floats.

In reaction to this, Dr. Venson requested that blacks be allowed to fully participate in future Cotton Carnivals.

His request was denied, so, Dr. Venson created the Cotton Makers Jubilee as an alternative to the racially-segregated Cotton Carnival. Black Memphians would have their own festival.

The Jubilee, formed in 1934, held its first celebration in May of 1936. The first King of the Jubilee was local funeral director Eddie F. Hayes, Sr. The first Queen was Dr. Venson’s wife, Ethyl Horton Venson.

The Cotton Makers Jubilee became a source of pride in the black community, with elaborate parades, gala parties, and educational events. Renamed “The Kemet Jubilee” in 1999 by Venson’s nephew, Clyde Venson, its new mission focused on educating the black community about Egypt and providing scholarships for all Jubilee junior royalty.

To learn more about our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or or their Facebook page, or at http://memphismuseums.org.