Does Mississippi Need a Civil Rights Museum?By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Jan 2011 08:05am |
This could be the year Mississippi builds a statewide Civil Rights Museum. Governor Haley Babour made it a priority during his State of the State address last week. M-PB's Jeffrey Hess reports that advocates say the museum is long overdue.
During the height of the Civil Rights struggle Mississippi was a battleground between segregationist and civil rights advocates.
Jackson State history professor Doctor Robert Luckett says because Mississippi played such a central role it deserves a museum telling that story.
"The movement, in many ways, centered and revolved around fighting segregationist and Jim Crow in this state. And yet, we have nothing that represents that struggle within the state of Mississippi and that's a shame," Luckett said.
An attempt to build a Civil Rights museum failed in 2007 over money concerns and disagreement about where to put it.
Governor Haley Barbour brought the issue back to the forefront during his recent state of the state address.
"Because this is he year to get this museum going. This is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders and it is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War," Barbour said.
Barbour recommended putting the museum in downtown Jackson near other historical landmarks.
State representative George Flaggs of Vicksburg is among lawmakers applauding the initiative.
"Understanding the significance and importance of the Civil Rights Museum and what it means to this state. To tell the children behind us and children to come the true of the civil rights and freedom rights marches," Flaggs said.
A number of important civil rights anniversaries are coming up over the next few years and Doctor Luckett believes that could be the springboard the Museum needs to be built.
"From the murder of Emmett Till, the story of James Meredith, Freedom Rides, Sit-ins, the Tougaloo 9, Freedom Summer, The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Fanny Lou Hamer, Annie Divine, Victoria Gray Adams...that is an awesome opportunity," Luckett said.
The Museum will cost around 50-million dollars and it is still not clear where that money will come from, although Governor Barbour has indicated that he thinks it should funded with be private dollars.
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