Friends of Forks of the Roads takes lead role

Published 8:48 pm Thursday, November 19, 2020

I want the public to know Friends of the Forks of Roads Society Inc. was asked to take the lead as part of a supporting group soliciting federal funds for Forks of Roads as recently announced and published in The Natchez Democrat.

A copy of my letter sent to the Mississippi Congressional Delegation asking them for their active support of Forks Funds allocation is provided below:

On behalf of members of Friends of Forks of Roads Society Inc. we seek your assistance to secure $400,000 of federal land acquisition funds, provided via the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Fiscal Year 2021 to enable the National Park Service to acquire privately owned properties from willing sellers within the Natchez Forks of Road Park boundary that includes two other dealers’ sites mentioned below.

After 35 years of living on the San Francisco California Peninsula (11th Congressional District), I arrived back in my hometown Natchez Mississippi on April 15, 1995. At the time I had planned on storing my historical collections and artifacts in the family home and going on to Africa to live.

In a discussion with a staff member of the then Natchez Convention and Tourism prior to my arrival we had reached a verbal agreement for displaying my African Origins of and Contributions to Civilization Exhibition in Natchez for “Black History Month and help with implementing their first ever Juneteenth celebration that coming June 19.

Being a veteran of years of erecting historical exhibits and conducting traditional African spiritual Ancestral libations at the many different Juneteenths throughout northern California, it was a natural for me to head up the first Juneteenth African traditional libation ceremony dedicated to enslaved Ancestors’ and Foreparents’ lives and contributions that made “Cotton King” in Natchez and Mississippi.

During one of my regular meditation sessions my spirit informed me to look for a libation site that would be an “equalizer” to past and ongoing Natchez history preservation and tourism narrative of “Natchez where the old south still lives.”

… I looked for a site that spoke to holistic populations and history instead of some person history or history that would be acceptable to the status quo. I found that site in California State University Northridge Professor Ronald Davis’ book titled “The Black Experience in Natchez 1720 to 1880.” That site was located at what was historically called “The Fork of Road.”

As head of the first Natchez Juneteenth Ancestral Libation Committee, I chose the site where human commodity trafficker John D. James (now owned by City of Natchez that’s being donated to the National Park Service) operated his chattel slavery selling market and conducted what became an annual ceremony at the Fork of Road.

In leading the movement struggle for rescuing, resurrecting, preserving, presenting and interpreting the humanity and history of America’s Domestic Chattel Slavery Trade via Fork of the Road, I implemented an Equal History Commemoration Campaign (that) seeks to overcome what was said by an 8-year-old African American student on a summer program education tour of historic “antebellum” homes. She said, “They make it look like they did everything by themselves.”

In the beginning my goal was to hold the federal National Park Service responsible for preserving, developing, presenting and interpreting the denied humanity and omitted chattel slavery history the Forks of Road represents and speaks about.

The Natchez National Historic Park Service’s enabling legislation mandates it to tell all peoples’ history.

Nearing 26 years of unprecedented and successful advocacy and community organizing actions with the help of my FRSI, and many others along the way,  rescuing, resurrecting, and preservation of the Forks of Road  sites of America’s “Domestic Slave Trade” has resulted in my theme of From Forgotten to a National Park Service Park.

Over the years many efforts of recognition of, support for and preservation of what has grown to be known as the Forks of the Road have been made by sources ranging from grass roots individuals and organizations, local and national media, local, state and federal governments, U.S. Congress included, and even the UNESCO “Slave” Route Project internationally.

College students, professors, researchers and independent authors, the Smithsonian Magazine and the “World’s Largest Travel Site” Tripadvisor have included the Forks of the Road in their papers, books, publications and travel guide.

… As Congressman Bennie Thompson said in his keynote speech at our 2001 Forks of Road ceremony back, regarding equal history, as represented by America’s Domestic “Slave” Trade history at Forks of Road, “let’s finished the job!”

Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley is the award-winning coordinator of Friends of Forks of Roads Society Inc.