October 23, October 25

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Witness to the greater part of the 20th century, brothel owner Nellie Jackson fully embodied the paradoxes of her era. As a young, poor, Black divorcee, Nellie began a brothel in her home in the riverside town of Natchez, Mississippi, and ran it continually for sixty years. Despite her illegal and salacious trade, Nellie’s brothel was operated quite publicly, largely due to her friends in high places, both cops and town mayors. Through interviews with those who knew her—from family members to the (now elderly) southern gents who used her services—we discover Nellie’s unique legacy, that of a savvy businesswoman with a generous spirit that would render her a pillar of the community all the way until her tragic death. -ST