Friday, June 21, 2024

Coahoma Community College Writing Seminar

I was thrilled to participate as a presenter for this program today (Friday, June 21, 2024) in Clarksdale, Miss. (Click on images to enlarge.)







Thursday, June 20, 2024

Re-enactors for 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry visit Woodville, Miss.

I think this black-and-white image resembles a historical photo. It was published this week in the June 20, 2024, issue of The Woodville Republican (Woodville, Miss.).

(Click on image to enlarge.)


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Enslaved labor is topic of new Melrose exhibit

By Roscoe Barnes III
Natchez, MS, USA / ListenUpYall.com
Jun 18, 2024 | 12:20 PM

John Retallack, park guide for the Natchez National Historical Park, stands at the gate of the slave quarters at Melrose, which is the site of a temporary exhibit on the history of the McMurran family – who built the Melrose estate -- and the people they held in bondage. (Click on image to enlarge.)
















Park Guide John Retallack is one of several staff members of the Natchez National Historical Park who provides tours of the Melrose slave quarters. (Click on image to enlarge.)

NATCHEZ, Miss. –  A Melrose slave quarters is the site of a temporary exhibit that presents the history of the McMurran family – who built the Melrose estate — and the people they held in bondage.

The exhibit, which is titled, “Through the Labor of Others: The McMurrans as Enslavers,” opened on June 10. It will last through Sunday, June 30, at #1 Melrose-Montebello Parkway.

It is free to the public and may be viewed each day between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

“The exhibit includes the currently known names of nearly 400 people enslaved by the McMurrans at Melrose and five plantations,” said Jeff Mansell, lead historian for the Natchez National Historical Park.

The exhibit aims to show, among other things, how words matter when discussing the topic of enslavement, said Mansell. For this reason, an entire panel entitled “The Language of Enslavement” addresses this topic. Mansell believes it will “be particularly thought-provoking” for the visitors.

Dr. David Slay, chief of interpretation, credited Mansell with creating the exhibit. He said the names of the enslaved people will include men, women, and children, with the youngest being 12 months old.

The slave quarters where the exhibit is featured is a small wooden structure with three rooms, where each served as a cell for three different families. Each room had a front and back door.

On the wall of the middle room is a history panel that presents the background of the McMurrans. According to the text, John McMurran was a Pennsylvanian who came to Natchez in the 1820s to make money as a cotton planter. “In pre-Civil War American, this meant becoming an enslaver on a large scale,” the panel notes.

When he married Mary Louisa Turner in 1832, her father gave them a slave labor farm called Hope Farm and 24 enslaved people to work it. Mary’s father was Edward Turner who was a state legislator and state justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Even though the McMurran’s started with 24 enslaved people, they would eventually have hundreds working various farms and plantations. It is believed that between 1832 and 1863, the McMurrans had enslaved more than 700 people. 

John Retallack, park guide for the Natchez National Historical Park, stands at the gate of the slave quarters at Melrose, which is the site of a temporary exhibit, “Through the Labor of Others: The McMurrans as Enslavers.” (Click on image to enlarge.)

An interesting part of the McMurrans’ history is what they did to maintain control over the enslaved. What Mary Louisa’s father did for them in providing slave labor, the McMurrans did the same for their daughter and son-in-law when they married in 1856, Mansell said.

“They would continue to maintain power and control through each generation by making enslavers of their children,” Mansell said.

The slave quarters exhibit is one of several programs the park service initiated this year to commemorate Juneteenth. Another program, which will be held Wednesday, consists of Melrose mansion tours, announced Mansell.

He said in a press release that throughout the day on June 19th, the staff of the Natchez National Historical Park will provide tours of the Melrose mansion that focus on the African American experience.

“The tours will highlight what is known about the enslaved men, women, and children who lived and labored at the estate as well as the system of slavery in this region that made such extravagant homes possible,” Mansell said.

The tours, which Slay called “African American history-centric tours,” will be given during the day on Wednesday.

Melrose house tours take place seven days a week at 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. The cost for adults is $11.00. The tour is free for children 15 and under. Tour tickets can be purchased at Melrose or online in advance at Recreation.gov.

Wednesday evening, beginning at 7:30 p.m., the Melrose Juneteenth Luminary will be held on the front lawn of the Melrose estate. It is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/natc

See more at this link: https://listenupyall.com/2024/06/18/enslaved-labor-is-topic-of-new-melrose-exhibit/

 

John Retallack, park guide for the Natchez National Historical Park, discusses a history panel on display in the temporary slave quarters exhibit on the Melrose estate. The exhibit opened on June 10 and will last through Sunday, June 30, at #1 Melrose-Montebello Parkway. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Melrose Juneteenth Luminary set for June 19th

By Roscoe Barnes III
Natchez, MS, USA / ListenUpYall.com
Jun 14, 2024 | 4:34 PM

Dr. David Slay, chief of interpretation for the Natchez National Historical Park, is pictured on the front lawn of the Melrose estate where the park service will present a luminary at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19th in commemoration of Juneteenth. (Click on image to enlarge.)

NATCHEZ, Miss. – A special event in commemoration of the Juneteenth holiday will be held at the Melrose estate at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19th, at #1 Melrose-Montebello Parkway.

Natchez National Historical Park will present a luminary on the front lawn of the estate that will honor the lives of those who were enslaved at the property. About 700 lights will be displayed.

The event is free and open to the public.

“This grand illumination will be held in remembrance of the nearly 700 enslaved people who involuntarily labored at Melrose and on the associated cotton plantations of John and Mary Louisa McMurran,” said Lead Historian Jeff Mansell.

Dr. David Slay, chief of interpretation for the Natchez National Historical Park, displays one of the many lights that will be displayed in honor of those where enslaved at the Melrose property. (Click on image to enlarge.)

Dr. David Slay, chief of interpretation, highlighted the significance of the lights. “Each light represents a human soul: a three dimensional being with hopes, dreams, and dignity,” he said.  “The luminary will provide a powerful visual representation of the human cost of Melrose.”

On the day of the luminary, the Melrose front gate will close at 5:00 p.m. and reopen at 7:30 p.m. Visitors are asked to park in the main parking lot and walk to the lower portion of the front lawn where an area will be set aside specifically for solemn reflection.

The public is encouraged to bring lawn chairs and flashlights. The observation will conclude at 9:30, and the gates will close at 10:00 p.m.

Slay said he is excited about the event, which will be held for the first time. “It would be nice if other houses follow suit in future years,” he said.

For more information, visit www.nps.gov/natc

Natchez honors the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry

By Roscoe Barnes III
Natchez, MS, USA / ListenUpYall.com
Jun 14, 2024 | 2:41 PM

Mayor Dan Gibson, center, is pictured with the re-enactors for the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry on the Natchez Bluff. He honored them on Thursday, June 13, with a Certificate of Recognition. Woodville Mayor Drew Pierson and his wife, Frankie, are pictured at the far right. Richard Wilder, president of Buffalo Soldiers Florida Inc., is holding the certificate; Alderwoman Valencia Hall is standing on the left. (Click on image to enlarge.)

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Mayor Dan Gibson visited the re-enactors for the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry on Thursday and presented them with a Certificate of Recognition on behalf of the City of Natchez. He also gave each of the re-enactors a lapel pin bearing the city’s seal.

Gibson was joined by Alderwoman Valencia Hall, Ward 1; Woodville Mayor Drew Pierson and his wife, Frankie; local historian Darrell White and other members of the local community.

The mayor honored the living history group for their work in telling the stories of African American soldiers who fought for freedom in the Union Army in Mississippi and other places. His visit on Thursday occurred as the group was wrapping up their Civil War encampment on the Natchez Bluff near Fort Rosalie.

Gibson thanked the re-enactors for their service, which aligns, he said, with his aim to tell the complete history of Natchez. Gibson also recognized White, whom he described as a “long time teller” of the stories of African American history in Natchez. White, one of several local re-enactors, portrayed Wilson Brown, a Union Navy sailor during the Civil War who received the Medal of Honor.

Mayor Dan Gibson honored the re-enactors for the 3rd U.S. Colored Cavalry Thursday, June 13, at the Civil War encampment on the Natchez Bluff. The mayor presented them with a Certificate of Recognition and a lapel pin bearing the city’s seal. Pictured from left are Valencia Hall, Ward 1 Alderwoman; Richard Wilder, president of Buffalo Soldiers Florida Inc.; Darrel White, local historian; and Mayor Dan Gibson. (Click on image to enlarge.)

“Natchez would not be Natchez were it not for the enslaved individuals who actually built this city,” said Gibson. “We can’t go anywhere in this city without seeing their brilliance. Right across the street we have Rosalie, right here, the Parsonage built by slave labor so many years ago.

“In fact, this country would not be a country if it were not for the sacrifices of those who were enslaved… This is a day were we no longer sweep this under the rug, but we tell it because it is our history.”

The day’s event was organized by Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-C. M. Boxley, coordinator of Friends of the Forks of the Roads Society. Richard Wilder, president of Buffalo Soldiers Florida Inc., led the group in their efforts to discuss the history of Black Mississippians in the Union Army.

In describing the group, Wilder said, “We are historical re-enactors and lecturers. Part of our mission statement states that we are to share the history of the USCT [United States Colored Troops] and the black regulars who were known as Buffalo Soldiers, and in order to do this, we must share and tell that history in truth and honesty, not leaving out anything.”

Wilder quoted Colonel Embury D. Osband (1832-1866), regiment commander, who reportedly said that “the name of these black horsemen struck fear in the hearts of the Confederacy.” Wilder said it is important for today’s generation and future generations to be aware of this “rich heritage.”

Gibson’s presentation included an update on the Natchez U.S. Colored Troops Monument project and the Hiram R. Revels Plaza. Together, these combined projects are called “The Forks to Freedom Park,” a name inspired by White, Gibson said.

According to White, the recognition given to African American history in Natchez has been a long time coming. “Individuals have dedicated energy and effort over the years to call attention to these untold stories,” he said. “I’m just so pleased to have been involved in this process and hoping that we can continue and carry on from this moment forward for the greatness of this community and for this nation.”


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Monday, June 10, 2024

Experience the Parchman Ordeal of the 1960s in Natchez, Miss.

Scan the QR code to download the app that will give you a virtual experience of The Parchman Ordeal.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Coahoma Community College Writing Seminar

I was thrilled to participate as a presenter for this program today (Friday, June 21, 2024) in Clarksdale, Miss. (Click on images to enlarge.)