City must pay attention to Forks

Published 11:40 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Carter’s right; our confidence is shaken.

What about the $550,000 sitting in Jackson waiting for the city or county to apply for use at Forks of the Road?

What about the city authorizing Tulane’s Mayor Project Forks of the Road initiative to move forward? What about the city returning roughly $70,000 of Forks of the Road funds back to MDAH in Jackson several years ago?

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What about U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s generated $144,000 for the city to study its Forks triangle piece property relative to being eligible to be included in the NNHP boundary, which has taken several years and still is not in?

What about the city going ahead with building the visitors’ center and now wanting the park service to take it over. Why can’t the same model or approach be used for the Forks development now? This is a common approach for many projects developed by non-park service entities and later allowing the park service to manage them.

The Martin L. King Jr. Center in Atlanta is an example, the city’s visitors’ center is an upcoming example!

Why does The Democrat not point these items out and support the right of African Americans to plan and interpret its history, culture, spiritual essence, legacies, humanity and community development contributions based upon the chattel enslavement history locally and nationally as it happened.

The park service does not have such expertise, because it will be done through blue eyes. Most importantly, it cannot capture the spiritual essence of African descent ancestors and foreparents in such planning, presentation and interpretation.

The spiritual piece was emphasized by Alderwoman Joyce Mathis and Professor Ronald Davis at the last community meeting the Tulane folks had in Natchez. Even Tulane architects could not understand the spiritual presence item. Naturally, most folk concerned with physical buildings do not.

The park service is very good at preserving and presenting physical structures on one or several people’s histories such as Melrose plantation estate and the William Johnson House. But where is the collective African descent peoples’ humanity and spirit presented and interpreted by the park service here?

Is The Democrat not able to understand that this is the story of African descendants? Are there double standards prevailing here or just disparate racial impact?

I am in favor of the park service eventually managing physical structures at the Forks that were planned and designed by and is interpreted by (knowing) African descendants. What is there to wait on? Now is the time to have Cochran’s funded Forks Boundary Study in hand. The study cannot say anything other than the city’s Forks property is eligible to be included in National Park at Natchez or the Natchez Trace Parkway.

It is time for leaders to call federal, state, county, city and knowing African Americans to the table and get going with both an approach to purchasing the other two sites and additional properties. The most immediate past actions by local, state and federal governments should have been and should be to purchase the two other market sites properties at the Forks, no matter what. I have been advocating this for years. Those sites are now very expensive.

Leadership is needed here as it is needed on all the other issues you editorialize about, such as streets, FEMA reimbursements and so on.

Ser Seshs Ab Heter-CM Boxley

coordinator, Friends of the Forks of the Roads

Society Inc.