Thursday, April 26, 2012
Planning underway for Civil Rights Museum
By SUE WATSON
Two museums, approved for funding in the 2010-2011 session of the Mississippi Legislature, are being discussed around the state.
Angela Stewart with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is touring the state on behalf of the new Civil Rights Museum that will be built in Jackson on North Street next to the Winter Archives Building.
The combined cost of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Civil Rights Museum is anticipated to run about $70 million, she said, with $40 million in bonds approved for the project.
David Beckley, president of Rust College, who also serves on the advisory board of directors for the Civil Rights Museum project at Archives and History, said the museums are being built with legislative authority but will involve a financial partnership using both government and private dollars.
Stewart was on the Rust College campus, one of her many stops across the state, seeking public input into what types of artifacts and ideas will be donated from local communities to the museum. Both artifacts and oral history will be collected.
Beckley said he is satisfied with the planning to engage people to contribute their artifacts and ideas.
“The question is, whose story will be told?” he said.
The meeting with Stewart allayed fears of whose story would be told, he said.
Holly Springs is considered an important outpost for the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, he said. Some faculty were quite interested in knowing the answer to that question, Beckley said, including Sy Oliver, head of the Division of Humanities at Rust College, who was lead person in questioning.
Beckley said the college does not have a very large body of artifacts and documents related to the Civil Rights movement, but does have the lawyers’ files for the Ayers Case.
The college would not donate its collection but provide copies, he said.
Stewart said the main purpose of her visits with communities across the state is to inform the public about the museum and to get input on how local communities want to be depicted in the museum. They will identify their local civil rights activists and organizations and solicit donations of artifacts and oral histories, she said.
Stewart serves as interim project manager for the Civil Rights Museum while existing staff provide support.
“This museum will be a state-run museum, the first state-run Civil Rights museum in the country,” she said.
Items donated to the museum will be stored in Jackson until the museum is built.
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