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Natchez commission approves design for "Parchman Ordeal" civil-rights monument
from Staff Reports - NEWS
September 14, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Plans are underway for placing a monument by the City Auditorium to recognize Natchez’ unjust imprisonment and abuse of civil-rights protesters more than 50 years ago.

The Natchez Preservation Commission on Wednesday approved the designs for the stone marker that will memorialize what’s known as the “Parchman Ordeal.” That’s when more than 150 black marchers in October 1965 were arrested by Natchez law-enforcement officers. Because there was no room in the city or county jails, the activists were taken to Parchman state prison in north Mississippi and held in inhumane conditions until bailed out.

In acknowledging this as a travesty, the Natchez Board of Aldermen in September 2015 approved a resolution apologizing to those blacks "who suffered these injustices."

They were charged with parading without a permit and defying a local judge's order against marching on the streets. According to historical accounts, the marchers were bused to 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.

The Preservation Commission on Wednesday reviewed diagrams for the proposed monument, which organizer Robert Parnell said is to be on the corner of Jefferson and Canal streets by City Auditorium. The plan as drawn has a stone marker, wall and small plaza to be accompanied with a written narrative of the event and the names of those arrested.

Natchez planning and zoning director Rico Giani said the Board of Aldermen must give final approval for the Parchman Ordeal monument to be placed on the city-owned property. He noted its construction is to be funded by private donations. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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