Two New Mississippi Museums Explore the State’s Troubled Past

By Sameer Rao Dec 05, 2017

The state of Mississippi will reflect on its history of racist violence and oppression with the opening of two new museums in Jackson this Saturday (December 9).

The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History are two new state history institutions, each partially funded by taxpayer dollars. They will share the same facility, and will open to the public one day before the state’s bicentennial on December 10.

A profile of the new museums, published by The Associated Press today (December 5), notes that they take different approaches to chronicling the state’s history. The Museum of Mississippi History covers 15,000 years, from the Stone Age to the present, while the civil rights museum specifically focuses on the years between 1945 and 1976—the height of activist activity in the state.

Artifacts featured in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum include archival booking photos of Freedom Riders, the listed names of 600 Black victims of lynching, and remnants of crosses burned by the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate Black residents and White allies. Exhibits dedicated to Emmett Till and Medgar Evers also feature in the new museum. The AP adds that the grounds do not feature the state flag, which is the last in the country to include Confederate battle emblems.

An anonymous White House source told The AP that President Donald Trump will attend the opening ceremonies for the new museums on the invitation of Republican governor Phil Bryant. The alleged invitation prompted backlash from the Mississippi NAACP, which demanded that Bryant rescind it.

"An invitation to a president that has aimed to divide this nation is not becoming of this historic moment," state NAACP chapter president Charles Hampton told The AP.