African-American in Natchez, MS


AFRICAN-AMERICAN in NATCHEZ HISTORIC NATCHEZ ON THE MISSISSIPPI CONVENTION AND VISITOR BUREAU P.O. Box 1485 Natchez, Mississippi 39121 (601) 445-7555 The name Natchez evokes many images--hoopskirts, the Mississippi River, steamboats, cotton, heat and Spanish moss. Often eclipsed by the illusion of white columns and flowering magnolias is the reality of Black Natchez. Nowhere in the pre-Civil War South was the slave-based agriculture economy more dominant or fully developed than in the Natchez region. African-American experience in Natchez suggests that the history of the region extends far beyond the myth of moonlight and magnolias. As you begin to examine history fully and pause to listen quietly to voices from the past, you find that few voices speak as forcefully and completely as Natchez. The Black Heritage Tour: This tour include various sites mentioned in this article. Also, contact the Natchez Convention and Visitor Bureau at (800) 647-6724 for a copy of the self-guided tour brochure. The Mostly African Market: Located at 125 St. Catherine Street in Natchez. Project Southern Cross presents art exhibits by various artists throughout the year. African and African-American regional art and crafts are featured. The exhibits and Market are open Wednesday through Saturday from 1-5pm. Call (601) 442-5448. Natchez Museum of African-American History and Culture: Located at 307 Market Street. Current exhibits encompass an era from the 1890's to the 1950's and include over 600 original items. There are also special visiting exhibits. Open Wednesday through Friday from 1-5pm and Saturdays from 11am-4pm. Call (601) 445-0728. Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church: At Martin Luther King Jr. and Jefferson Streets. Built in 1858, in 1866 the building was sold to the African Methodist Episcopal Church, whose minister, Hiram R. Revels, became the first black man to serve in either house of Congress when he fulfilled the unexpired U.S. Senate term of Jefferson Davis in 1870! Blues Festival: This festival takes place in downtown Natchez in early to mid July. Contact the Convention and Visitor Bureau for details. Holy Family Choir: This is an exceptional group which performs throughout the year. Find out if they will be performing during your visit. Few African-Americans have old family houses to point out to their children, but several points in Natchez are worth a visit to get a taste of the land and the life of ante-bellum Mississippi. One spot is Natchez Under-The-Hill, once the beginning of the ancient Natchez Trace, and then a major river port and market and the world's most flourishing cotton market of its day. Also, find out which of the plantations in the area include the workshops and housing of the slave population and welcome visitors. When you take your family on a trip like this, don't forget to have the kids check with their teachers about possible extra credit for research and a report. It's a great lesson that learning can be fun and often turns a student into a teacher.

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