Civil War Museum

Celebrate with these events this weekend

260 views – Mississippi – 2022-06-17 12:29:17

This weekend,  will celebrate Juneteenth with a parade, live music, and more to commemorate the June day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in the U.S. were freed.

Juneteenth was made a federal last year and will be observed this year on Monday making this a three-day weekend to celebrate your freedom.

We’ve rounded up some of the weekend’s best…

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New historical marker honors Fannie Lou Hamer


‘It goes back to knowing what your history is’: New historical marker in Winona acknowledges civil rights beatings, honors Fannie Lou Hamer

WINONA – It has been 59 years since Euvester Simpson returned to the city where arrested and beat her and five rights activists in the former county jail.

The then-17-year-old remembers seeing Fannie Lou Hamer after the beating and how black and blue the woman’s hands were. Simpson tended to Hamer’s injuries by applying a cold rag to parts of her body. 

On Thursday, a multiracial group gathered to unveil a historical marker from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at the former Montgomery County jail site at the corner of Oak Drive and Sterling Avenue. Over 100 people watched Simpson and Hamer’s daughter Jacqueline Hamer Flakes pull a covering off of the marker.

“Being here today, she accomplished what she was here to do,” Hamer Flakes said about the commemoration and historical marker, which are part of her mother’s legacy. 

The unveiling kicked off four days of events called Bridging Winona, which are meant to remember the violence at the jail and commemorate Hamer and the voting rights activists.

“The bridging of Winona can be a model for other towns not just in Mississippi, but all across this country,” said Simpson, who is now 75. 

Bridging Winona organizer Vickie Roberts-Ratliff, whose family has lived in Winona for six generations, was one of about 10 people who worked with city officials to get the historical marker and organize the commemorative events. 

“It goes back to knowing what your history is,” she said. “It can be difficult to peel it back, but it can be healing.”

Roberts-Ratliff was an infant when Hamer and other activists were beaten at the jail, and she didn’t learn about what happened in Winona until later in life.

She tried previously to get a historical marker for Hamer at the former jail site, but those efforts were not successful. 

During last year’s city elections, a new mayor, Aaron Dees, and members of the Board of Aldermen were elected. She approached Dees, who agreed to work with her. 

He agreed that the city was missing the mark by not acknowledging what happened to Hamer and the activists. Dees said a historical marker should have already been installed. 

“This is a time to bring the whole community together – every racial background, every ethnic background,” he said. “Hopefully we can take this and move forward with this.” 

The marker now stands as a reminder of the infamous violent events that occurred here nearly 60 years ago. In 1963, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizers Hamer, Simpson, Annell Ponder, June Johnson, James West and Rosemary Freeman were returning by bus to Greenwood from a voter education workshop in South Carolina. Members of the group got off the bus when it stopped in Winona and went to a lunch counter where they were refused service. The bus terminal area was segregated and they attempted to integrate it.

A trooper tried to get the activists to leave. Local police came and arrested them. Hamer got off the bus to see what was happening to her colleagues, and was arrested too. 

Hamer Flakes, the youngest and only living daughter of Hamer, said at the jail, her mother heard screaming and crying from 15-year-old activist Annelle Ponder, who refused to address the officers as ‘sir.’ She was beaten until her dress was soaked with blood, according to SNCC. 

SNCC leader Lawrence Guyot, who came to the jail to post bail for the group, was also beaten.

A sheriff’s deputy beat Hamer with a billy club and then ordered two inmates at the jail to beat her with the club until they were too tired, Hamer Flakes said. The deputy also beat Hamer in the head, her daughter said. 

Hamer sustained injuries to her kidney and eye from the violence that were with her for the rest of her life, her daughter said. 

“It’s amazing how she went through that beating but came out stronger than ever,” Hamer Flakes said. 

The U.S. Department of Justice tried five Montgomery County law enforcement officers. They were acquitted by an all-male, all-white jury in December 1963, according to SNCC. 

Hamer was born in 1917 in Montgomery County and lived in Ruleville in Sunflower County. She was the daughter of sharecroppers and a former plantation worker who began organizing in her 40s. 

In 1962, Hamer and a group traveled to the Indianola courthouse to register to vote and were given literary tests. The day later she was fired from her plantation job. 

Hamer joined SNCC and helped organize voter registration drives, including during the 1964 Freedom Summer. 

She stepped into other forms of organizing, including through when she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer and activists traveled to the 1964 Democratic National Convention and delivered a speech asking the party to be recognized. In her speech to the DNC, Hamer shared her experience of violence in Winona. 

In Ruleville, she founded the Freedom Farm Cooperative to help Black farmers grow produce to be financially self-sufficient. 

Hamer, who died in 1977, has been commemorated in Ruleville, including through a sign marker along the Mississippi Freedom Trail and a statue of her and a memorial garden where she and her husband Perry are buried. There is also the Fannie Lou Hamer Civil Rights in Belzoni. 

Oxford-based nonprofit Land Literary and Legacy, which Roberts-Ratliff is a member of, was part of organizing the Bridging Winona events. The group’s goal is to create awareness about the importance of local and national history through education and building community. 

In April, Dees signed a proclamation designating June 9 as Fannie Lou Hamer Day – the same day she and the activists were beaten at the jail. 

The goal is not to forget what happened in Winona, but to bring closure and use lessons from the past in the future, Dees said.

He hopes to see a day declared for Hamer at the state and national level. Hamer Flakes said she would like to see an annual Fannie Lou Hamer day in Ruleville. 

On Thursday after the marker unveiling, the community celebrated at the Winona Community House with live music, food and children’s activities. There were also oral history interviews conducted and people were able to register to vote. 

A Friday morning event at Winona Baptist Church focused on land ownership. Representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Park Service talked about sustainable agriculture, forestry, economic development and other issues.

Other commemoration events planned for the weekend are:

  • Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Fannie Lou Hamer legacy historical bus tour across the Delta. The cost is $95 and lunch is provided. Register on Eventbrite
  • Sunday 4 p.m.: Fannie Lou Hamer community health service at Winona Baptist Church. This is a free event and registration is suggested on Eventbrite.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Mississippi Stories: Pam Confer – Mississippi Today


Mississippi Stories: Pam Confer

In this episode of , Mississippi Today Editor-At-Large Marshall Ramsey sits down with Pam Confer. Pam is an international, award-winning, bilingual singer, song-writer, and speaker. She has deep Mississippi roots, and a smile that can move the world. Her voice is described as velvety Jazz, dipped in soul.

Performing with her group Jazz Beautiful, she was voted the Mississippi Jazz Foundation’s 2015 “Jazz Ambassador of the Year.” She recently wrote and debuted the song, “Mississippi Beautiful,” which has quickly become a unifying and favored piece in Mississippi. “Mississippi Beautiful” is also permanently in Gallery 8 of the new Mississippi . A self-proclaimed “Joy Scout,” Pam talks about positivity, empathy and the beauty all possess. Prepared to be inspired.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Bill Clinton to speak at ceremony honoring Winters at Two Mississippi Museums


Bill Clinton to speak at ceremony honoring Winters at Two Mississippi Museums

Former President Bill Clinton will be among the speakers May 3 in a ceremony at the Two Mississippi Museums in honoring the lives of former Gov. William Winter and First Lady Elise Winter.

President Bill Clinton walks with former Mississippi governor William Winter into the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, on March 22, 1995. Winter spoke before Clinton signed the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act of 1995.

Clinton’s tenure as Arkansas governor overlapped with Winter’s term as governor of Mississippi from 1980 until 84. And as president, Clinton appointed Winter to co-chair his Initiative on Race that dealt with the issue of racial reconciliation. The William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation, now the Alluvial Collective, also was created at the University of Mississippi.

Also speaking at the event sponsored by the Foundation for Mississippi History will be Reuben Anderson, the ’s first African American Supreme Court justice, and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.

Winter died in December 2020 at the age of 97 and the former first lady died in July 2021 at the age of 95. Because of the pandemic, there was no public service upon their deaths. The May event will be the first.

After his , Mississippi Today posted a “homily” by Rob Lowry, the former pastor of Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson where the Winter’s were members, honoring the former governor and outlining what he would have said if there had been a service.

Lowry wrote, “Governor Winter was a kind of public servant almost entirely absent on the scene today. He led with a passion for justice and a compassion for his neighbor that was born not of selfish ambition but a sense of responsibility and a profound belief in the promise and possibility of a better tomorrow. Acutely aware of the advantages his hard work and education had earned, he set about to work for the betterment of his home state. That commitment to leave Mississippi better than he found it was the cornerstone of a public life that helped shape our state for half of one century and into the next.”

Winter steered the Education Reform Act of 1982 to passage in an improbable special legislative session right before Christmas, creating public kindergartens among other education changes.

Elise Winter also was active in public service, working with her husband on education issues as first lady and to improve the conditions at Parchman Penitentiary. She was active in Habitat for Humanity and on other issues.

William Winter was a long-time member of the state’s Archives and History Board and, along, with Anderson, who is a member, led the effort to develop the state’s Two Mississippi Museums – the of history and of . He also was critical in the decision of Myrlie Evers to donate to the state the papers of her and her late husband, Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers, who was assassinated outside his Jackson home in 1963.

During the administration of Barbour from 2004 until 2012, Winter and Anderson worked with the then-governor to garner state funding for the Two Mississippi Museums project that has received national praise.

“These museums stand at the intersection of William Winter’s greatest passions—history, education, and racial justice,” MDAH Director Katie Blount said, “Generations of young people will come here to experience the stories that have shaped our state and nation.”

Winter had a long career in , serving in multiple statewide offices, and he also served in the .

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Governor’s Arts Awards 2022 – Mississippi Today Partner Stories


Governor’s Arts Awards to honor Colley-Lee, Williams Brothers and more

The Mississippi Arts Commission event will be held at the Two Mississippi Museums on Feb. 10.

Acclaimed costume designer Myrna Colley-Lee was in her late 20s when she got her start in New York alongside Hazel J. Bryant, a fellow trailblazer in black theater who produced hundreds of musicals and plays and founded the Richard Allen Center of Culture and Art.

“We forged a path for black theatre in the mid- to late-1960s,” Colley-Lee, a Charleston resident, recalls. “We were doing amazing shows, many written by and featuring African American writers and actors,” including Langston Hughes. Using her art background, Colley-Lee began designing posters and flyers for the productions, then graduated to scenery and finally costumes, where she found her niche.

On February 10, Colley-Lee will accept her latest honor, a Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Costume Design & Arts Patron, at the 34th Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony. The Mississippi Arts Commission will host the event at the auditorium at the Two Mississippi Museums in at 6 p.m., preceded by a reception at 4:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

The lineup for the awards ceremony also features the five-time Grammy-nominated Williams Brothers, a gospel singing group started in 1960 in Amite County that has recorded 43 albums and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Brothers Doug and Melvin Williams, along with Andre Tate, will perform during the ceremony and take home the award for Lifetime Achievement in Music.

In the Arts in Community category, the ceremony will honor Alcorn University Jazz . Under the direction of David Miller, the festival has brought internationally renowned musicians Branford Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding, Chick Corea and Max Roach and many others to Vicksburg, where the festival is held. Miller will also perform during the ceremony.

Longtime event curator Holly Lange of Ridgeland will receive the Governor’s Choice Award. Lange, who founded the Mississippi Book Festival and has produced opening events for the of Mississippi History and Mississippi Museum, the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center and more, has dedicated much of her career to showcasing Mississippi’s cultural history.

“So many of us want to shine positive attention on our state and make people feel good about where they live,” says Lange, “and that’s what the Governor’s Arts Awards does. It draws attention to those who have had some success with their talent and helps expose them to a broader audience at the same time.”

Belzoni native and filmmaker Larry Gordon will receive the award for Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures & Television. Gordon is best known for production the Oscar-nominated drama “Field of Dreams,” as well as action movies like “Die Hard,” “48 Hrs.,” “Predator” and “Point Break.”

Abstract artist and arts educator Mary Lovelace O’Neal, a Jackson native, will be honored for Excellence in Visual Art. O’Neal’s work has been exhibited at the Mnuchin Gallery in New York and abroad in Italy, France, Chile, Senegal and Nigeria. The professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, has received the Artist En France Award and was selected to represent Mississippi in the Committees Exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Due to , some recipients will deliver their acceptance remarks via a recording. In addition to the live event, Mississippi Public Broadcasting will air the ceremony on February 18.

Learn more about the 2022 Governor’s Arts Awards.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Civil War museum provides insight into the North, South, slavery

199 views – Mississippi – 2022-02-03 21:00:12

A Vicksburg man’s goal to collect guns from the Civil War period grew into a larger project when he discovered a bill of sale for a 7-year-old girl.

Then, his goal became a quest to give people a comprehensive view of the era and enslaved people who were the central part of the conflict through his new Vicksburg Civil War Museum.

In his journey to collect guns, Charles Pendleton…

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