The Life and Death of Davis Knight after State vs. Knight (1948)

Renegade South

By Vikki Bynum

Courthouse in downtown Clinton,  Feliciana Parish, Louisiana Courthouse in downtown Clinton, Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. The Davis Knight trial will be filmed here for the movie, Free State of Jones.

The Ellisville Courthouse, Ellisville, Mississippi, where Davis Knight was tried and found guilty of miscegenation. The Ellisville Courthouse, Ellisville, Mississippi, where Davis Knight was tried and found guilty of miscegenation. Photo by Victoria Bynum.

Davis Knight, the great-grandson of the infamous “Free State of Jones” guerrilla, Newt Knight, became the centerpiece of his own drama some 25 years after the death of his notorious ancestor. Although Davis was descended from Newt and his wife, Serena, both of whom were white, he was also the great-grandson of Rachel Knight, a former slave of Newt’s grandfather. And although Davis was white in appearance, because of his descent from Rachel, he was defined as black by his white neighbors. Some of those neighbors did not take kindly to Davis Knight’s marriage in 1946 to Junie Lee Spradley, a local white woman. In 1948, Davis…

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