Pilgrimage stories were nice to read

Published 3:24 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dear Editor and staff of The Democrat, I want to thank you for the excellent job you did on the special section that ran in Sunday’s paper for the 75th anniversary of the Spring Pilgrimage, beginning with the fabulous picture on the front of past times at Green Leaves.

The story on the Lanneaus was a genuine feel good story and showed a moment in history that most of us had no idea about.

Until we began planning for this year’s Pageant I had no idea the Mrs. Jo Ella Powlett was the queen from 1939 and what a wonderful article on her and her reign. And when she was presented Saturday night it was very special.

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Then to follow with a story about Mary Louise Shields, one of the founding members of this event that we call Spring Pilgrimage, told us what courage and perseverance it took for these women to build the simple act of opening their homes to what we have now.

When you have something that lasts for 75 years you know somewhere in there are stories about generation after generation that have participated.

The story on the Benoist/Green families showed us how one family has continued the tradition.

However, I must say the story I am the happiest with was the one on the Givens family. The combined Pageant Committee has worked for two years to see these changes come into effect. And as Mrs. Givens stated “If Natchez is going to move forward there have to be changes.”

We on the Pageant Committee respect the history of Natchez and we know that story cannot be told accurately without including our black heritage.

It has been our goal to bring about change without offending any member of any community, and I think we have managed to do just that. Several families who help with role of the William Johnson family and they are equally good.

We have several young men who portray Prince Ibrahima, the African prince who ended up serving as a slave in Natchez. And our soloist Derrick Young, a vocal student from Alcorn University, all I can tell you is that when he sings Ol’ Man River it will take you breathe away.

Thank you so much for the positive articles on a 75-year old tradition that has managed to survive the merging of old and new and become a better event for all of Natchez.

Christina Hall

Pilgrimage Garden Club pageant chairman