Wharlest Jackson house could soon be listed on National Register

Published 12:03 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

NATCHEZ — The house of slain civil rights activist Wharlest Jackson Sr. may soon be on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Wharlest and Exerlena Jackson house, located on Matthews Street, being placed of the National Register.

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During late 1960s Jackson was the treasurer of the Natchez branch of the NAACP, a position that made him a target of the Ku Klux Klan. He had recently received a raise and a promotion at Natchez’s Armstrong Tire and Rubber Plant to a position that was regarded as traditionally reserved for whites.

The 36-year-old father of five had finished his shift at Armstrong on Feb. 27, 1967, and was within a few blocks of his home when a bomb planted beneath his truck detonated on Minor Street. Jackson was killed instantly, and his murder remains unsolved.

Mayor Darryl Grennell said placing Jackson’s house on the National Register would be a step toward memorializing Jackson’s life and the sacrifice he made for the Civil Rights Movement.

Grennell recently made a presentation to the state review board of the National Register of Historic Places regarding the application, which was approved.

The review board meets quarterly to review and recommend nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, which are then passed on to the Department of Interior for final review and approval. Natchez residents Jim Barnett and Elizabeth Boggess serve on the state board.

The nomination for the Jackson house was prepared by MDAH National Register Coordinator Bill Gatlin.

The application notes significant Civil Rights Movement events that occurred in Natchez leading up to and after Jackson’s assassination and the significant attention it received locally, statewide and nationally.

The application also noted that “the history of violent white response to the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi is documented and recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.”

The National Register includes such locations including the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, where Emmett Till’s murderers were tried but exonerated, the house of slain activist Medgar Evers and his wife, Merlie and others.

The Jackson house is located at 13 Matthews St. and is owned by two of Jackson’s children, Wharlest Jackson Jr. and Denise Ford.

If the Jackson house is placed on the National Register, Grennell said, it would be eligible for tax credits for historic restoration projects as well as historic preservation grants that could help preserve the house and Jackson’s story.

“Having it on the National Register, it will (highlight) some areas in Natchez that people need to identify in terms of knowing the history of Natchez, the good, the bad, all of it,” Grennell said.