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Names to be added to war plaques

NATCHEZ — The U.S. government is ready to right an 86-year-old wrong at the federal courthouse in Natchez.

Researchers working for the U.S. General Services Administration have determined that the names of 581 black World War I veterans are missing from bronze plaques hanging outside the courthouse.

The GSA is ready to revise the plaques to include all the names, but first they want you to proofread their list.

The list is available for viewing this month at the Armstrong Library, the federal courthouse, the Natchez Historic Foundation, the Natchez Museum of African American Culture and the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

The names can also be viewed by downloading a pdf here.

Anyone who thinks they know of a name that has been omitted should contact Jackie Tyson at 770-498-4155, ext. 105 or jtyson@newsouthassoc.com.

The GSA became aware of the missing names in 2008 when a California State University graduate student, Shane Peterson, highlighted the issue in his thesis.

After the graduate thesis, local resident and coordinator of the Friends of the Forks of the Road Society Ser Seshs Ab Heter-C.M. Boxley began campaigning for inclusion of the missing names.

In April, the GSA committed to including the names.

The GSA inherited the existing plaques in 2004 when it took over control of the building known as Memorial Hall. Restoration work to turn the building into a federal courthouse lasted until 2007.

The building dates to 1853. The plaques were put up in 1924, during the era of Jim Crow segregation.

The GSA contracted with New South Associates, a cultural resource management firm based in Stone Mountain, Ga., to research the missing names.

New South used military rosters, the Veterans Affairs Board Records’ List of Ex-Servicemen archived at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson and census records to verify the list of names originally set forth by Peterson.

Research showed that in addition to the 581 black soldiers excluded, more than 100 white veterans were also left off.

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