Boxley still seeks Forks nomination

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 11, 1999

Natchez activist Ser Seshshab Heter-C.M. Boxley is pursuing more than one avenue in his attempt to make the Forks of the Road slave market site a national historic landmark.

An application has already been sent to the National Park Service to make the public rights-of-way surrounding the site – which is located at Liberty Road, St. Catherine Street and D’Evereux Drive – a landmark.

The landmark process usually takes about seven years, said Jim Barnett of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, who submitted the application to the National Park Service.

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A Park Service representative who met with Boxley in August in Washington said making the site a landmark could be difficult since no slave market structures still exist on the site, Boxley said.

But there is a chance that the site, once the location of the second-largest slave market in America, dating to the early 1800s, could be made a landmark under the agency’s Underground Railroad landmark program.

&uot;That program identifies sites that are pertinent to African-American history, including those involving slavery,&uot; Boxley said. &uot;And it’s probable that this site could be included.&uot;

Barbara Tagger, who heads the Atlanta-based program, will visit Natchez after Oct. 1 to study the site and see if it could be eligible to become an Underground Railroad landmark, Boxley said.

Tagger could not be reached for comment Friday.

By the end of September, Boxley will start to research what government grants and other funds are available to help buy land adjacent to the site.

The possibility of getting grants was discussed at a Thursday meeting by Boxley, Barnett, city officials and owners of adjacent land.

That land could be the site of a future interpretive center telling the story of the Forks of the Road.

&uot;It’s necessary to talk about the chapter of history that the Forks of the Road represents,&uot; Boxley said. &uot;It’s a chapter that has not been told.&uot;