The reopening of the Ida B. Wells Museum was a high point of the celebration of the birthday of the famed civil rights and human rights activist.
Wells’ descendants, including granddaughter Alfreda Duster Ferrell, make the annual visit to Holly Springs to help perpetuate the memory of Wells and her stand against lynching in the United States and her stand for human rights and suffrage. Wells was a journalist as well as activist.
Chris McVey, a teacher at Kent State, visited this year. She brings her students to Memphis, Tenn., twice yearly to help clean the graves of three lynched victims who are buried in Zion Cemetery on South Parkway. McVey said the three victims were friends of Ida B. Wells, men lynched in 1892.
“We study her in class,” McVey said. “One of the classes I teach, I bring to Holly Springs and we have been doing this since 2002.
Her classes visit the area on spring break and in November and they help raise funds for the Zion cemetery.
Dr. McVey teaches in the department of Pan-African Studies.
Rev. Leona Harris, museum curator, praised the Mississippi Development Authority for a tourism grant of $150,000 that was used to renovate the interior of the museum. The floors and a fireplace were refinished and ceilings and walls were replastered. She thanked local elected officials for donations that help keep the museum open and Sen. Bill Stone and former Rep. Kelvin Buck, who helped get the financing from Jackson. In 2005, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History provided a grant to do work on the exterior of the structure.
Harris said more and more people are visiting the museum.
Dr. Nellie Smith performed a solo, “It Is Well With My Soul,” which she said Ida B. Wells would have liked.
Aldermen Christy Owens and Sharon Gipson, mayor Kelvin Buck, and chancery clerk Chuck Thomas were among elected officials recognized. President David Beckley with Rust College and Clencie Cotton were present. Sylvester Oliver was thanked for his help with grant writing.
Alfreda Duster Ferrell spoke of a tree planting in honor of her brother, the late Donald Duster, his son, the late David Duster, and the late Benjamin Duster, family members who wanted a tree planted in their memory as a living memorial.
Chelius Carter, who served as architect for the restoration work, spoke of the project’s importance on many levels.
The historic structure was built by the father of Ida B. Wells, who worked for Spires Boling and learned carpentry from him. Wells married one of Boling’s slaves, the mother of Ida B. Wells, and remained in Holly Springs.
Carter said the legacy of Ida B. Wells and the museum represents the antebellum architecture of the time, the period of slavery, and the crafts of African Americans who helped construct the historic architecture of the city.
James Wells became a master carpenter under Spires Boling. Carter said a project to search for the location of slave quarters where Ida B. Wells was likely born is envisioned. The intent of the restoration of the house is to take the house back to the 1862 period, he said.
Harris clarified that James Wells was not a slave but his wife, Elizabeth, was a slave owned by Spires Boling. James Wells was born a free man in Tupelo, she said. He was sent to Holly Spring to be trained as a carpenter and could have planned to go back to work on a plantation in that capacity. But since he was a free man, Wells married and remained in Holly Springs to work with Spires Boling.
Attendance this year was off due to other activities going on, but all in all, attendance was good, Harris said.
“I was pleased with the attendance and the feedback was all good,” she said.
About 125 people attended the banquet and there was good attendance at breakfast at Strawberry Church, she said. The birthday celebration is the major fund-raiser for the museum.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (662) 252-3388
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
The South Reporter
P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page