By Steve Gorman The Jackson Memorial Hall in Jackson, Miss., is known as the “Black Museum of Mississippi.”
The museum has an impressive collection of artifacts that dates back to the civil rights era and has been open since 1967.
But the museum’s history of racial injustice and the ongoing struggle against segregation has led to many visitors coming away thinking of the cemetery.
“There are so many people who come to Jackson and think, ‘Oh, I’d like to see the Jackson Memorial,’ ” said Steve Dickey, president of the Jackson Museum Association.
The association’s board members agreed.
“I want to say, it’s really a wonderful thing to be able to have people from across the state of Mississippi come and be there for this.
I mean, we are so fortunate,” Dickey said.
The board also wants to make it easier for visitors to learn about the history of the Black museum, which began in the mid-1960s, and has seen many changes over the years.
The museum’s board has proposed the creation of a museum exhibit, but Dickey wants to include some more of the artifacts from the Jackson graveyard that are not readily accessible in a museum.
“This is a very important piece of history,” he said.
A museum exhibit would be the first step to moving the museum from its current location on the south side of the Mississippi River to a museum dedicated to the museum.
The Jackson memorial is a historical cemetery with about 3,600 gravesites dating back to 1875.
The cemetery’s namesake, Jackson County Commissioner John C. Jackson, was the first Black to hold elected office in Mississippi.
He was a minister in Jackson in the 1850s.
He also had a role in a local ordinance that prohibited black people from owning land, Dickey and the board said.
He is also buried at the cemetery in Jackson.
Jackson’s first president, George Davis, was a Black man.
The Civil War ended in 1865, but the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum in the South.
A series of laws, including one that prohibited discrimination against blacks in housing, education, employment and other areas, led to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Dickey hopes the museum exhibit will give people a better understanding of the history and significance of Jackson’s graveyard.
“We want people to go in and see these graves, because we have them here,” he explained.
“And you can see what a place this is.”
The board is currently working on a proposal to rename the cemetery, Dicks said.
Dicks has already received hundreds of letters of support from the community.
The proposal will go before the Jackson City Council.
The committee is expected to decide on the name of the museum at a future meeting.