NAPAC begins fundraising for Wright exhibit

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NATCHEZ — With a repaired roof, a growing membership and eyes to the future the NAPAC museum is ready to become what it’s going to be.

And to do that, the Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture will need to raise some money.

Right now, the Main Street museum has a room for its boxes. The storage space is waiting to be developed, museum Director Darrell S. White said.

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And what better to put there than an exhibit honoring Richard Wright, a black author who spent many of his early years in Natchez.

Wright, born in Roxie, visited his grandmother on Woodlawn Avenue many times during his childhood.

But Natchez only commemorates Wright in a few small ways, White said.

“He went on to become an internationally renowned literary giant, but there was nothing here in town that said Richard Wright other than a marker on the bluff and on Woodlawn,” White said.

But hopefully, that’s about to change.

White wants to create a Richard Wright exhibit hall, collect some memorabilia and use some of the leftovers from the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration’s upcoming Wright commemoration.

“If the museum is to serve as a depository of information and artifacts that pertain to the African-American community in Southwest Mississippi we ought to have something here that says Richard Wright,” White said.

And to begin the fundraising, the museum is hosting “An Evening of Jazz Vibrations” at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Russell Thomas Quintet from Jackson State University will put on a concert at the Natchez Community Center.

Advance tickets are available for NAPAC members for $15, or for $20 for non-members. Tickets at the door will be $25. Call 601-445-0728 for ticket information.

Wright hopes this week’s concert will be a good financial start for the museum, which saw approximately 600 visitors over the last two months.

The building is open for tours during business hours and community functions by appointment. Tours are currently free — with a requested donation — though White said that may have to change soon for non-members.

“Because we didn’t have the initial strength within the community, I didn’t want a price affixed to the front door,” White said. “If I could get them in here and tell the story and show them what some of the needs are — that’s gotten us an increase in membership and donations.”