Crowd celebrates Forks of the Road

Published 12:28 am Sunday, April 6, 2008

NATCHEZ — Against the slate gray backdrop and chilling winds Saturday morning, a smattering of gleeful citizens found cause to celebrate.

The four new interpretive signs for the Forks of the Road were unveiled and after years of diligence, Ser Seshs Ab Heter- C.M. Boxley smiled wide throughout the entire ceremony.

Following African tradition, Boxley asked permission of the elders to go forth with the ceremony and once permission was granted, African drummers drummed and singers sang and danced.

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Boxley stole away for a moment and reappeared cloaked in his African priest robes.

The group of 50 or so people formed and circle and joined hands as Boxley purified the grounds with incense.

He then offered libations and purified and blessed the ground.

He also made an announcement as to why he chose to labor over the Forks of the Road since the mid-90s.

He said when he observed Pilgrimage and Pageant, he felt something was missing.

“They make it look like they did this all by themselves,” he said.

He said he wanted to equalize the history of Natchez and that meant making the black history known, now his project has turned into a landmark that is nationally recognized.

“The Forks is bigger than us, it’s bigger than Natchez, it’s bigger than Mississippi,” Boxley said. “Natchez has come to grips with its slavery past.”

He also revealed why he chose the unveiling for April.

“In April 1865, the grey coat brothers of the South surrendered,” he said. “The Civil War ended in April 1865.”

In addition to that, he said last April it was the 75th anniversary of Spring Pilgrimage, where black history was not appropriately included.

“That ends as we stand here today,” he said.

This is the beginning of ushering in a new truth, he said.

Mimi Miller, program director for the Historic Natchez Foundation, said although the foundation helped Boxley in the beginning, all the credit goes to him for bringing the Forks to fruition.

“He took what we worked on and made it a reality,” Miller said. “He deserves a lot of credit.”

Boxley said he was pleased with the turn out, but that was not what mattered to him. Regardless, he thought the turnout despite the weather was good and the crowd had a lot of energy.