Parchman Ordeal monument needs careful planning

Published 12:47 am Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The City of Natchez’s early plans to dedicate a monument to commemorate a tragic event in the city’s history are good, but perhaps a bit premature.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said last week he is forming a committee to begin planning a memorial to what is known locally as the Parchman Ordeal.

In October 1965, hundreds of black residents were detained for simply assembling peacefully and many were bussed to the state penitentiary at Parchman, despite having never been convicted of a crime.

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Providing some kind of memorial to the horrible ordeal is warranted, however, the City of Natchez needs to work hard on getting its own financial house in order before spending a penny of non-essential spending, including good causes like this.

As plans for how to best commemorate the ordeal are begun, we urge the committee members to consider not only what is appropriate, but also what is practical from a long-term, maintenance position.

One has to look no further than the veterans’ memorial at the city’s Memorial Park downtown. Through the memorial’s history, the monument has fallen into disrepair quite a few times and eventually a protective railing had to be erected to discourage damage from skateboarders.

Again, the cause is a worthy one, particularly worthy not to forget, but the city must be practical in its planning.