NAPAC will receive literary honor

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 23, 2008

NATCHEZ — When Darrell White accepts the designation of a Literary Landmark for the Richard Wright exhibit hall in the NAPAC museum, he will be doing so for the entire community.

The exhibit hall is only the eighth landmark in Mississippi to receive the distinction of being called a Literary Landmark by the Friends of Libraries U.S.A.

“I may be standing up there shaking someone’s hand,” said White, executive director of the museum. “But I’m collecting it for everyone. We are part of history.”

Email newsletter signup

According to the Friends of the Libraries U.S.A, locations nominated for the distinction must be directly tied to a “deceased literary figure, author or his or her work.”

White said the Mississippi Library Commission, in partnership with the Mississippi Library Association, petitioned the Friends of Libraries U.S.A. for the designation of the museum.

White said he was blown away when he learned the distinction had been granted.

“It was a phenomenal feeling to recognition the contributions made by Richard Wright. And in telling a portion of his story here at the museum, the librarians determined that the Richard Wright exhibit hall here is a national literary landmark,” White said. “It gives a bit more stature to the work we are doing at the museum.”

The distinction coincides with 100th anniversary of Richard Wright’s birth.

“It may have taken 100 years but this is one of two state historic markers that are located within the community to celebrate Richard Wright’s life,” White said. “Nothing else here spoke of the life and times of Richard Wright and now we have the exhibit hall that will feature exhibits directly related to him.”

The ceremony to recognize the dedication will be this morning at the Natchez Convention Center as part of the Mississippi Library Association Conference. White said it was appropriate that the ceremony be during the conference.

“Since they were responsible for the designation, they will make the contribution as part of their convention,” White said.

Although there are only a few places designated as Literary Landmarks in Mississippi, Natchez is lucky enough to be home to two such place.

The William Johnson house is also a Literary Landmark because of the literary contributions of William Johnson’s diary.

“I don’t know of too many other Southern cities, especially the size of Natchez, that can claim two different sites as national literary landmarks,” White said. “It speaks even a little bit higher because of the fact that they were both men of color.”