Civil Rights Museum

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

Turning a state civil rights museum from an idea into an up and running facility is no easy task.

"It's going to take a lot of work. We're just at the beginning," said interim project manager Angela Stewart.

Stewart and her team are traveling across the state getting ideas from folks of what and who they want to see in the museum when it opens.

"We want to know from those communities, how they want to see their communities represented," said Stewart.

On recent trips across the state from Holly Springs to Hattiesburg and McComb, Stewart says names like Ida B. Wells, N. R. Burger and C. C. Bryant tend to pop up in conversation. Above anything else though, Stewart says folks are asking for one common goal.

"The truth. As the old saying goes, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That's the most important common concern has been about the museum," said Stewart.

That's just what Charles Evers wants as well. He's the brother of slain civil rights advocate Medgar Evers. Evers says he hopes the focus won't be just on a dark past.

"Let's make it look positive and progressive, not negative. I don't mind showing the old negative pictures but let's show all the progress we've made," said Evers.

A piece of property at the corners of Mississippi and North Streets in downtown Jackson is where the museum will open, alongside a Mississippi History Museum. The opening date is slated for December of 2017, to coincide with the state's bicentennial.

Both museums were approved by lawmakers last year, pushed by then governor Haley Barbour.

"The civil rights struggle is an important part of our history millions of people are interested in learning more about," Barbour told legislators last year.

There are some plans already in the works for what to exhibit, but when it comes down to it, Stewart says it'll be driven by the public.

"We want those plans to mesh with what people are talking about as well," said Stewart.

When that talk turns to action, Stewart and Evers say Mississippi will have a historical asset preserved for the future.

The state has hired a museum firm to decide how the exhibits will look. Upcoming input sessions will be Monday, April 9th in Gulfport, Monday, April 16th in Cleveland and Tuesday, April 17th in Philadelphia at 5:30 PM at The Depot.

If you're not able to get to one of those sessions you can submit your comments and ideas at www.2mississippimuseums.com


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