Thursday, July 21, 2005

Guests see restored Ida B. Wells Museum


Holly Springs celebrated the life of Ida B. Wells last weekend and the grand reopening of the museum named in her honor.

The annual birthday celebration kicked off Friday with tours of the museum, located at 220 North Randolph Street, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The restoration of the museum was funded in large part through an African American Heritage Grant awarded in 2001 by the board of trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

“With this project, Holly Springs has saved a beautiful historic building, honored a native daughter and created a cultural and heritage attraction,” said H.T. Holmes, a representative of the Department of Archives and History.

He thanked Leona Harris, executive director of the museum, and the museum’s board of trustees for their leadership in seeing the project to fruition. He commended Mayor Andre’ DeBerry and the City of Holly Springs for their commitment to preserving its historic resources.

“I also want to mention the late Eddie Smith, former mayor of Holly Springs, who was instrumental in getting this project off the ground,” he said.

Dr. Cora Norman, retired executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council, said Ida B. Wells stood strongly for justice for the African-American citizen.

“She was a courageous woman who could not be intimidated by the ruling class, and a woman who continually shared through her writings and her speeches her belief that the United States Constitution was for all citizens,” Norman said. “This museum is a memorial to a woman who fought for what was right and just in the midst of anger, arson, and a bloody disobedience to our laws of justice through lynchings.”

She praised Harris and others for what they accomplished in the restoration of the building.

“The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs attests to what one woman can contribute to a more just and peaceful society,” Norman said. “It is my hope that young people will come and learn what is at stake when leadership is exhibited, and what can be accomplished.”

Donald Duster, grandson of Ida B. Wells, expressed appreciation on behalf of the family for the restoration work. He said he comes to the birthday celebration every year to support the museum and Harris.

“Through hard work, perseverance and prayers, this has come into existence,” Duster said. “We must keep a legacy alive. We must tell our children and our grandchildren about the negative results of racism in America.”

Mayor DeBerry cut the ribbon, officially opening the newly renovated facility.

The weekend celebration included lots of other activities, like music and art, a barbecue dinner Friday evening, the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Commemorative Banquet Saturday night and a breakfast Sunday morning.

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