New initiative will commemorate and educate the public
about state’s Civil Rights legacy
JACKSON, MISS. - The Mississippi Development Authority’s Tourism Division today announced the creation of the Mississippi Freedom Trail, a major cultural initiative designed to commemorate the state’s Civil Rights heritage. The trail will offer a virtual tour of the state and those sites that played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.
“The Mississippi Freedom Trail will be an outstanding educational attraction that will honor those from around the country who contributed to the Civil Rights Movement here,” Gov. Haley Barbour said. “The trail will complement the Civil Rights Museum to be located in Jackson. Many people travel to Mississippi hoping to learn more about our history. This trail will be a great resource for visitors touring our state.”
The Mississippi Freedom Trail has been a work-in-progress over the last year. Along with a task force of scholars, historians and veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, MDA Tourism coordinated the important work of selecting 25 initial sites for the trail from over 300 submissions from communities around the state.
“The Mississippi Freedom Trail is an enormous opportunity for our state to commemorate the bravery and courage of the men and women who fought for freedom and justice and to educate the public about Mississippi’s Civil Rights heritage,” said Leland Speed, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority. “With this year’s reunion activities of the 1961 Freedom Riders, now is the ideal time to unveil this important cultural initiative.”
In addition to the 25 sites, another five sites were pre-selected in association with the Mississippi Freedom 50thFoundation in anticipation of the Mississippi Freedom Riders Reunion activities scheduled this month. Those five markers will be unveiled throughout the month of May.
On Wednesday, May 18 at 3 p.m., the first of the five pre-selected markers will be officially unveiled in memory of Emmett Till near Bryant’s Store in Money, Miss. Wheeler Parker and other members of the Till family will be in attendance.
The additional markers will be unveiled as follows:
Monday, May 23 3 p.m. Medgar Evers’ House in Jackson
Tuesday, May 24 11 a.m. Greyhound Bus Station in Jackson
Wednesday, May 25, 2 p.m. Fannie Lou Hamer in Ruleville
TBD Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman
These first five markers are funded with donations from Tougaloo College, MDA and local private and public contributions. The subsequent 25 markers will be funded through community funds and the 2010 Civil Rights Historic Sites Grant Program passed by the Mississippi Legislature (HB 1701) and administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
“This project has definitely been a collaborative effort. That spirit of cooperation and teamwork embodies what we hope to represent by commemorating the state’s Civil Rights heritage and raising the national consciousness,” noted Mary Beth Wilkerson, director of MDA Tourism.