COFO Building Update

Meridian, Miss. One of Meridian's historic buildings is set for demolition. The old Fielder and Brooks Drug store is set to be torn down. Often referred to as the COFO building, it served a prominent purpose during the Civil Rights Movement. Despite many efforts from private individuals and groups, city officials say that the building has been deemed as not safe.

"The Mississippi Department of Archives and History came in and brought a structural engineer to do an assessment of the building, and it's his findings that the building is just too far gone to be able to save,"says John McClure, who's the Community Development Director for the City of Meridian.

In 1964 the building served as the office for the Council of Federated Organizations. During that time it was a one stop shop, which brought together the resources of four prominent civil rights groups. The three civil rights workers who were killed in neighboring Neshoba County that year, even worked out of that office.

Within the last year alone, there were a number of efforts trying to restore the building. With it now deemed as unsafe, city officials say its historical significance will be preserved.

"That is an extremely significant building to the Civil Rights Movement, not just in Meridian and the state of Mississippi, but throughout the south," says McClure, "and as a consequence we want to memorialize what happened there even though we've lost the building."

At this time McClure says plans are still being developed on how to best spotlight the historical significance of the building. He also says that a contractor has been contacted to do the demolition. At this time, there's no official word on when the building will be demolished. The COFO building is located on Fifth Street in the heart of Meridian's Historic African-American Business District.