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Natchez aldermen approve funds for civil rights monument
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 22, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen agreed Wednesday to fund part of the monument being erected in Natchez commemorating what’s considered one of the most egregious abuses of blacks during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

The granite marker and plaza will memorialize what’s known as the “Parchman Ordeal,” when more than 150 marchers in 1965 were arrested by Natchez law-enforcement officers as they were peacefully protesting segregation, unfair treatment and obstruction of voting rights. Because there was not enough space in the city and county jails, some activists were bused to Parchman state prison in north Mississippi and held in inhumane conditions until bailed out.

The Natchez board – which officially issued an apology in 2015 for the travesty – on Wednesday approved allocating $38,300 for the black granite monument’s fabrication and placement that Mayor Darryl Grennell estimated will cost about $114,000. He’s asked the Adams County Board of Supervisors and state Legislature to fund the rest, but no action has been taken by them to come up with the money.

The “Proud to Take a Stand” monument is to be a six-foot-tall, 12-foot-long semicircle structure located by the corner of Jefferson and Canal streets on the grounds of Natchez City Auditorium. It’s to be accompanied by a sitting wall and small plaza emblazoned with a written narrative of the event and the names of those arrested. It’ll also take note of the official 2015 contrition expressed by the Natchez Board of Aldermen in a resolution apologizing to blacks "who suffered these injustices."

Those arrested were thrown into the city and county jails or corralled into the Natchez City Auditorium. According to historical accounts, many marchers were bused to the state prison at Parchman, stripped naked in cold weather and crowded -- more than 10 apiece -- into cells meant for just two prison inmates. They were given laxatives without adequate toilet facilities.

Grennell -- who noted his father was among the demonstrators arrested and imprisoned -- said the Parchman Ordeal was not known of much publicly most of the past 52 years. However, its historical prominence has risen recently. With the opening last December of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, Grennell said, the timing is especially appropriate for the monument to be built in Natchez.

The mayor said he hopes this spring to begin the fabrication of the black granite monument and getting the names etched in the stone. That, he said, will take about six months.




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