Technology allows for virtual reality experience at Proud to Take a Stand monument

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, June 8, 2022

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Special to The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Robert Pernell wants visitors to get more out of their visit to the Proud to Take a Stand monument on the corner of Jefferson and North Canal streets.

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As the chairman of the Proud to Take a Stand Monument Committee, he wants them to have an experience that is not only informative, but moving, immersive and interactive.

Thanks to a new QR code, his wishes are possible as visitors can now have a virtual reality experience of the civil rights history featured at the site. The experience is made possible using the TimeLooper mobile application, Xplore-AR.

“In virtual terms, the technology transports the viewer to 1965 where they can witness the history for themselves,” said Pernell. “This is storytelling on a new level. Now people can experience the story on site, or they can view it using this virtual reality technology.”

By simply scanning the QR code shown on a small sign posted at the site in February, the visitor is given access to the Xplore-AR app.

Lance Harris, a commissioner and past president of Visit Natchez, who helped bring the experience to life, explained the virtual reality experience is best viewed and optimized with a set of Google Glasses or other viewing devices, such as Oculus.

“Visit Natchez is proud to have engaged with the Proud to Take a Stand Committee to create a compelling and unique experience that provides insight to an important chapter in our community’s history,” Harris said. “This project would not have been possible without the Mississippi Tourism Recovery Fund, enacted as part of the CARES Act. From what I have gathered, everyone is very pleased and excited about this.”

The Proud to Take a Stand monument is a 6-feet tall granite structure that honors the Natchez-Adams County citizens who were wrongfully incarcerated in October 1965 for standing up for basic civil rights and voting rights. It was completed in October 2019.

The monument is engraved with over 500 names, according to Pernell. Many of those listed are names of the young men and women who were forcefully shipped to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman in October 1965, where they were humiliated, punished, and abused for several days. They became known as survivors of “The Parchman Ordeal.”

Mayor Dan Gibson expressed appreciation for the monument and the new virtual reality feature. “We are so grateful to have this important monument in our city, making sure that such a significant event in our history is properly honored,” he said. “The new TimeLooper feature will now take a visit to this monument to the next level.”

How to see the experience

TimeLooper’s app allows visitors to see the full story of this historic event using a mobile device. Access is gained by scanning the QR code in the bottom right corner of the sign. The scan takes users to to download the Xplore app. Users may follow the steps below.

1. After the download, select the title “Parchman Ordeal.” A screen will appear with the option to “View it in AR.” Click on this option.

2. Follow the instructions to “Scan your table, floor or backyard.” While scanning and moving your mobile device around, a geographical image (a map) will appear on your screen. At the bottom of the screen, you will see directions to “Tap on the highlighted area to place AR platform.”

3. Next, you will be asked to “Start Xploring” and to “pinch the image to zoom”.

4. You will see a prompt to “Activate content by bumping your device on a pin.” The “pin” will appear as a thin, vertical white line with a circle on top and extending up from the geographical image.

5. Using your finger, simply tap on the pin, and images of the Parchman Ordeal will appear, along with the voice of the narrator telling the story of this critical moment in the civil rights movement.