3 on the Road: Two Museums - Jim Crow Era - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 on the Road: Two Museums - Jim Crow Era

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is destined to be one of the most powerful statements about the Civil Rights Movement in the nation. Each of the galleries portrays another aspect of the movement, or perhaps a different time period. But one of the MOST powerful galleries depicts the Jim Crow era.

There was a vaudeville minstrel performer who called his character Jumpin’ Jim Crow. The derogatory name was transferred to a race. And the laws pertaining to segregation in the South became known as Jim Crow Laws, and the time period during which they were in force, the Jim Crow Era.

Gallery two of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is about that era.

Lots of inequities marked the period. The supposed separate but equal schools, which weren’t. Public facilities with white and colored entrances, and the powerful centerpiece of the gallery, the monoliths of the names of the people, predominantly black, predominantly men, who were lynched during that time period in our state.

Anyone who might be tempted to think Mississippi is attempting to white-wash our past needs only to stand here and read these names.

"Well, as far as the State of Mississippi lynching was big here. We had the largest amount of lynchings in this state. So we needed to pay homage to these people who passed on for all types of reasons," said Mississippi Civil rights Museum Director Pamela Junior. "This was a violent death where people would gather in town squares to see this happen. We have to see the darkness in order to get to the light."

No doubt the most famous of all of the Jim Crow Era murders in Mississippi was that of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old youngster visiting Mississippi from Chicago, accused of whistling at a white woman. His death pretty much sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

So the rest of the museum builds on the foundation laid by what you see in this gallery. Modern Mississippi is built on what you see in this museum. If you want to understand Mississippi, you need to understand what is happening in Gallery Two of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

"We need children, we adults, we need young adults to understand this time frame," added Junior. "So we can appreciate the people that were a part of the movement.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is a no-holds-barred accounting of an era.

"We were ground zero for the Civil Rights movement. So instead of other people trying to tell our stories, now we’re here, telling our story," said Junior. "Because now we’re moving. We’re ready to move. So let's tell the truth. Let's be authentic in it and then continue and go forth to something much better.

And I would say that is the unspoken challenge of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, let's acknowledge and absorb our history, not repeat it, and make Mississippi something better because of it. 

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