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Natchez board OKs start on building civil rights monument
from Staff Reports - NEWS
January 15, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Work is moving forward on building the monument city officials are hoping will be completed this year to memorialize the ordeal more than 150 blacks endured 53 years ago when arrested by Natchez law-enforcement officers as the marchers were protesting for civil rights.

City aldermen on Monday approved Mayor Darryl Grennell’s request to begin paying for engraving the granite marker with names of those he said were “wrongfully incarcerated” in 1965. With a total cost estimated at about $115,000, the monument and accompanying plaza is to be located at the corner of Jefferson and Canal streets on the Natchez City Auditorium grounds.

Grennell expressed hopes the monument will be put in place by the end of this summer.

It’ll commemorate the “Parchman Ordeal” when blacks protesting segregation and obstruction of their voting rights were arrested. They were thrown into the city and county jails or corralled into City Auditorium. According to historical accounts, many marchers wound up being bused to the state prison at Parchman, stripped naked in cold weather and inhumanely packed into cells in unsanitary conditions. They were released a few days later.

The Board of Aldermen is spending $35,000 upfront to begin getting the black granite marker prepared as more funds are being sought from the state Legislature, the Adams County Board of Supervisors and private sources.

While private donations have been forthcoming, the Legislature and county board so far have declined to provide money. However, they should be willing to help “make it right by contributing to the monument to memorialize those who were part of this horrific event,” Grennell said Monday.

As they did last year, Natchez officials will be requesting funds from the Legislature, which began its annual session last week. Adams County supervisors have questioned whether state law allows them to donate money for the city-owned monument, but Grennell said the county board could get special permission to do so from state lawmakers.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen last year earmarked about $40,000 for the monument from funds it gets from the Magnolia Bluffs Casino in Natchez. The casino pays rent for leasing the city-owned land it occupies.

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




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