Four Mississippi Sites Awarded NPS Civil Rights Grants

From the NPS website (with added photographs for each building in Mississippi that received an award):

Interior and National Park Service Announces $12.6 Million in Grants to Preserve African American Civil Rights History

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service today announced $12.6 million in grants for 51 projects in 24 states that preserve sites and highlight stories related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century.

“An integral part of the Interior and National Park Service mission is to help preserve and tell America’s story,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “These grants will benefit places across the nation that help tell an essential piece of that story through the African American struggle for civil rights and equality.”

“Through the work and engagement of public and private partners, these grants will preserve a defining part of our nation’s diverse history,” National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith said. “By working with local communities to preserve these historic places and stories, we will help tell a more complete narrative of the African American experience in the pursuit of civil rights.”

Projects receiving grants this year include those that will preserve resources like a baseball stadium used by the Negro National League in Paterson, New Jersey; the home of civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell in Washington, D.C.; and the last standing African American officers’ club at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Grant projects also include statewide surveys to identify lesser-known civil rights sites, planning exhibits and interpretive trails, and collecting oral histories.

Congress appropriated funding for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program in 2016 through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. For the second year of this grants program, Congress increased funding from $8 million to $13 million in 2017. Grant-supported projects include surveys and documentation, interpretation and education, oral histories, architectural services, historic structure reports, planning, and physical preservation.

Here is the abbreviated spreadsheet showing only the Mississippi awarded projects.  For the full awarded project list please refer to the NPS press release.

Mississippi Phase One Rehabilitation of the Isaiah T. Montgomery House, Mound Bayou, MS Mississippi Heritage Trust $284,000
Mississippi A Case to Save Wechsler School The Wechsler Foundation $500,000
Mississippi Restoration of Historic Old Phoenix Naval Store Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain $499,534
Mississippi Marks Mule Train and MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign Interpretive Trail Quitman County Mississippi Government $50,000

The following is a review of the FY2017 grants to Mississippi from

Wechsler School Meridian Lauderdale County 2008 S.Tietz, MDAH from MDAH HRI accessed 9-11-17

The Wechsler School, Meridian – $500,000.  The Wechsler School was the first brick public school built for African-American children in east Mississippi.  The Wechsler Foundation proposes to rehabilitate a 1951 school building for use by students for virtual field trips to learn more about the Civil Rights era in the Meridian area.  Project phases include renovation of auditorium and dining hall/multipurpose room, new mechanical and electrical systems.

Old Phoenix Naval Store, Gulfport – $499,534.  The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain plans to restore the Phoenix Naval Stores Office as a community center for the Gulfport’s Turkey Creek neighborhood.  This structure is one of the last vestiges of a thriving timber industry on the coast which employed many African Americans.  The plant thrived until a fatal explosion in the 1940s killed 11 men and closed the plant.  The facility was used as private residence before being abandoned.  The site was listed on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi in 2015.

The Isaiah T. Montgomery House, Mound Bayou – $284,000.  The Mississippi Heritage Trust (MHT) proposes restoring the home built in 1910 by Isaiah T. Montgomery, who was born into slavery and worked after the Civil Ware to secure African Americans protection of the law.  Montgomery led fellow freed slaves to establish the all black community of Mound Bayou in 1887.  As Mound Bayou grew, the home served as a private residence, civic space, and home to African American medical professionals from the nearby Taborian Hospital.  MHT intends to repair the home’s exterior and renovate interior rooms for use as a retreat center and museum.

Marks Mule Train and MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign Interpretive Trail, Marks –$50,000.  The Quitman County Board of Supervisors applied for this grant to support the design and installation of 11 interpretive markers at key sites related to visits by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the Poor People’s Campaign’s “Marks Mule Train.”  This project would help commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Mule Train’s 1968 journey from Marks, Miss., to Washington, D.C.

Categories: African American History, Civil Rights, Gulfport, Historic Preservation, Mound Bayou, National Park Service


1 reply

  1. Thank for for posting – this is welcome news,


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