Civil rights sites considered for national park status

Published 9:13 am Monday, April 30, 2018

JACKSON (AP) — A federal agency is preparing to hold six public hearings about a proposal to give national park status to some civil rights in Mississippi.

The sites are the Jackson home where Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963; a store and courthouse connected to the 1955 slaying of black teenager Emmett Till; the old Neshoba County Jail where civil rights activists Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were detained before Ku Klux Klansmen killed them in 1964; and the Biloxi medical office of Dr. Gilbert Mason, who organized wade-ins to integrate public beaches on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The National Park Service hearings are May 7 in Ewing Hall at Delta State University in Cleveland and at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner; May 8 at the shared auditorium of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi history and at the Medgar Evers Library, both in Jackson; May 9 at the depot in Philadelphia; and May 10 at the Biloxi Visitors Center.

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People may ask questions and provide information at the hearings. Comments may also be made on the National Park Service website.

“Rigorous research and public opinion help our nation’s leaders determine whether a resource of national significance should be added to the National Park System,” Ben West, Southeast regional chief for planning and compliance with the National Park Service, said in a news release. “The public’s voice is critical to this process.”

A 2017 federal law directs the National Park Service to study the significance of Mississippi civil rights sites. This two-year study is a step toward setting the sites as a new national park. The news release says other sites might be considered for part of the park designation.