Shows to help find funds for Forks of the Road

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2000

A representative of U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows’ Jackson office is attempting to find funding to get the former Natchez slave market site known as the Forks of the Road nationally recognized.

&uot;It may be a part of our history that some would rather forget, … but it’s still a part of our history,&uot; said Glen Rushing, Shows’ district director.

The Forks of the Road — the juncture of Liberty Road, St. Catherine Street and D’Evereaux Drive — was, in the early 1800s, the location of the second-largest slave market in America. Ser Seshshab Heter-C.M. Boxley of Natchez is heading a group that is working to get an interpretive center built at the site.

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Rushing said he met one week ago with Boxley to learn more about the site and the status of efforts to get it recognized. Now, Rushing said he will search for funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies.

Specifically, Boxley is attempting, through government representatives like Rushing and officials with the National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Sites program, to find funding for the project.

Meanwhile, Rushing said, Boxley needs to get drawings of the area, put a study of the site on paper and build as much community support for the project as possible in order to increase chances for recognition of the site.

During a meeting Boxley held last month with National Park Service officials in Atlanta, it was determined that the two best chances of recognition for the site were to pursue a National Trail or Scenic Highway designation for the surrounding roads.

Boxley’s group would be more likely to get such recognition for the site if they had a study done of the site to back them up, Rushing said.

Boxley said he plans to start a study of several possible options for the site in the near future. He also plans to contact representatives of U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran to see if they can also assist in locating funds for the project.

Boxley said recognition for the site may be years away. &uot;I might not even be here when the race is over,&uot; he said. &uot;But at least the runners are off the starting block.&uot;