Local black history takes center stage

Published 12:09 am Friday, February 1, 2008

Historic Jefferson College invites schools to participate in the 13th annual Black History Month program with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the National Park Service.

This educational program introduces young people to black history on the local level at two prominent historical sites near Natchez, Historic Jefferson College and at Mount Locust on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

At Historic Jefferson College, young people learn about three subjects, including a traditional craftsman, the late Nathan Bennett, whose techniques in woodworking and basket making are presented by staff who knew Bennett. Students learn the importance of passing skills from generation to generation. They learn the fascinating story of Ibrahima, the “Slave Prince” born to royalty in Africa and enslaved on the very land that later became Jefferson College.

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There will be someone to tell of Ibrahima’s incredible life, offering insight into the complexity of the slave experience in our own community. Those attending the program also learn of the use of Jefferson College for a Freedman’s Bureau school in 1865. The Freedman’s Bureau, created by the Federal government, was designed to educate and assist formerly enslaved people.

At Mount Locust, groups participate in an engaging experience with a National Park Service ranger, including a discussion about the origin of African slavery, including the Middle Passage, slavery on the Trace and the daily life of a slave at Mount Locust. This program includes personal information about enslaved people at Mount Locust. The students also visit the Mount Locust enslaved people’s cemetery and tour the Mt. Locust Inn.

For years, Historic Jefferson College and Mount Locust have partnered to offer these great educational field trips to first and fourth grade classes.

Now, the program is open to any age. There is never a charge to participate in our educational programs, but you need to reserve a time with the program coordinator. If it is not possible for your group to travel to the site, we may be able to arrange a visit to your classroom for a brief program. For more information and to schedule a visit or discuss the possibility of a classroom visit, please call 601-442-2901. The field trips are offered during the month of February.

Maxine Clay is program coordinator for Black History Month at Historic Jefferson College.