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Adams County board balks at Natchez mayor's request for civil rights monument
from Staff Reports - NEWS
May 8, 2018 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – It appears the Adams County Board of Supervisors will not help fund the planned monument to honor Natchez civil rights activists despite a second appeal Monday from Mayor Darryl Grennell for money to build the structure.

The mayor is leading a fund-raising campaign to erect a granite marker and plaza recognizing Natchez’ unjust imprisonment of civil-rights protesters 52 years ago in what’s known as the “Parchman Ordeal.”

However, county board President Calvin Butler said supervisors won’t have the $38,300 Grennell requested to chip into the estimated $115,000 needed for the memorial. Adams County has too many other budget priorities that outweigh the construction of the commemorative site Natchez officials plan to place by City Auditorium, Butler said.

The monument will memorialize the ordeal that more than 150 blacks in October 1965 endured when arrested by Natchez law-enforcement officers as the marchers were peacefully protesting civil-rights abuses. Because there was not enough space in city and county jails, some activists were bused to Parchman state prison in north Mississippi and held in inhumane conditions until bailed out.

The so-called “Proud to Take a Stand” marker is to be a six-foot-tall, 12-foot-long semicircle monument located by the corner of Jefferson and Canal streets on the Natchez City Auditorium grounds. 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 Natchez Board of Aldermen in a resolution apologizing to blacks "who suffered these injustices."

Aldermen agreed in February to put up $38,300 for the monument, but county supervisors and the state Legislature have declined to match that. In asking supervisors a second time Monday for money, Grennell said he’ll be seeking private funds – including $1,000 of his own money– to fulfill the total amount needed for the marker’s construction.

Grennell noted Natchez tourism attractions’ focus on history “lacked diversity” in providing insights into the plight of blacks, who were enslaved in the 1800s and endured civil-rights injustices in the 1900s.

“We have to tell about all facets of history…. We have to have this monument so the story can be told … (of those) wrongfully arrested,” he said.

Noting the last of those arrested in 1965 are dying off, he said it’s important to now “honor them for the sacrifices they have made.”

Grennell’s father was among those arrested during the “Parchman Ordeal.” | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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