Parchman Ordeal monument needs $69K, start crowdfunding account to raise money

Published 12:21 am Sunday, February 10, 2019

 

NATCHEZ — Organizers of a planned monument to commemorate a Natchez civil rights era incident in which approximately 150 protesters were unlawfully imprisoned in the state Penitentiary at Parchman are seeking to raise $69,000 to fully fund the project, organizers said.

The project that began in 2016 has an estimated total cost of $130,000, said Robert Pernell, chairman of the Proud to Take a Stand Monument Commission.

Almost half of the money required to create the monument has already been raised, Pernell said, through private donations from individuals and from a Sept. 23 benefit concert

The City of Natchez has also contributed $36,000 in city funds allocated from casino gaming revenue.

To help garner the remaining funding, the Proud to Take a Stand Monument Commission has opened an internet-based, crowd-funding account to help raise the remaining $69,000, Pernell said.

The Parchman Ordeal, as the event has come to be known, happened in October 1965 when some 700-800 young people, mostly blacks, decided to march in Natchez in protest of recent issues of racial tension in Natchez and Adams County, including fire bombings believed to have been perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Natchez Mayor and Board of Alderman also had recently passed a city ordinance requiring all marches to have a permit and believing the permit would have been denied, the marchers decided to march without a permit, local historians say.

The city retaliated by arresting more than 300 people, holding some who were held in the city jail, others in the Adams County Jail, and still others who could not fit in those facilities, who were held in the City Auditorium before being bused to the state prison at Parchman, some 200 miles north of Natchez where they were held for four to seven days before being released.

The detainees were held at Parchman without ever being charged with crimes and they were tortured and humiliated by the prison guards.

The city’s ordinance banning marches without a permit was later ruled unconstitutional, and in October 2015, the 50th anniversary of the Parchman Ordeal, the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen passed a resolution formally apologizing for the incident.

In 2016, the city formed the Proud to Take a Stand Monument and the group proposed to build a black granite wall 6-feet tall and 12-feet long, bearing an engraved image taken from a historic photograph of people being arrested in the incident and all of the names of the 439 people arrested.

The monument also will include the City of Natchez’s formal apology, Pernell said, and the engraving portion of the work is in the process of being commissioned.

Once the granite monument is completed, it will be placed on the grounds of the City Auditorium at the corner of Canal and Jefferson streets, where many of the detainees were held before being bused to Parchman some 200 miles north of Natchez.

Pernell encourages anyone who would like, to donate to go to www.gofundme.com/proudtotakeastandmonument. As of Saturday afternoon the site showed $1,060 of the needed $69,000 had been raised so far.

“All donations are tax deductible,” Pernell said.