Historic Natchez Foundation awarded $50,000 for civil rights project

Published 12:17 am Friday, January 13, 2017


NATCHEZ — The Historic Natchez Foundation was awarded $50,000 in federal grant money to research and preserve the civil rights history of Natchez and Adams County.

The National Park Service announced Thursday $7.75 million in funding for 39 projects across the country that will preserve and highlight many of the nation’s sites and stories associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

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The Historic Natchez Foundation was one of two Mississippi organizations to receive grants. The Emmett Till Memorial Commission of Tallahatchie County will receive $500,000 to restore the first floor of the county courthouse.

Historic Natchez Foundation Executive Director Mimi Miller said the organization was excited about the announcement.

The grant money will be used to survey, inventory and mark the area’s historic sites with interpretive plaques, Miller said. The foundation also plans to nominate the sites to the National Register of Historic Places as a thematic group of properties.

“What we will be doing is creating a civil rights trail,” Miller said.

Sites that will be considered include locations ranging from the sites of burnings and civil rights meetings to places associated with the murder of Ben Chester White in 1966.

“We received letters of support from the city, county, the Community Alliance and the (National) Park Service,” Miller said.

Natchez National Historical Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond, who assisted with the grant application, said the funds would dovetail with a $10,000 grant the Natchez national park has already received to designate churches that suffered violence during the Civil Rights Movement.

Both grants, Bond said, will help the community respond to an increasing need from tourists for information regarding civil rights and the African-American experience.

“There are a growing number of   tourists who are looking for something that will help them understand race relations,” Bond said.

These tourists include international travelers on the Mississippi Blues Trail and other people who are interested in the Civil War and its aftermath, Bond said.

They are not interested in the myth of South, Bond said. Instead, tourists want direct information.

Bonds said the funds, for both projects, would help the community accomplish two goals that Bond said were shared by the Natchez Tricentennial Ethnic and Social History Committee.

“It will help us know and understand our story, so we can help other people know and understand our story.”