Public, private groups work on Forks project

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Even if the deadline to use a $200,000 grant for the Forks of the Road site is not extended, the City of Natchez and others working on the project promise not to give up.

We’re glad to see the efforts undertaken by the grassroots group that has pushed for recognition at the site as well as the city and county governments, who have issued public calls for donations.

A few weeks ago, it looked like the project &045; to recognize what was at one time one of the largest slave markets in the nation &045; would languish because no deal could be made to purchase the land before the state Department of Archives and History yanks the grant after already issuing extensions.

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So a group of concerned citizens petitioned the city and county to step up their efforts to raise funds &045; and sought private donations on their own as well.

In the meantime, city aldermen and county supervisors have used each of their public meetings to call for donations, and aldermen even took out newspaper ads to drum up support.

The city may well lose the $200,000 grant, but it looks like the silver lining is the cooperation this project has inspired between public and private groups &045; not to mention the continued dedication to get the site recognized.

Buying the land is the first step; after that, supporters want to place some kind of interpretive center at the site to teach residents and visitors about the significance of the Forks of the Road. So many of the people who helped build Natchez into what it is today were literally bought and sold at that site. It holds significance not only for African-American residents but for all Natchezians.

So, even after the deadline for the grant passes, we’re glad to know many people will continue to work toward making the dream a reality.