MDAH News

MDAH Celebrates the Life and Legacy of William and Elise Winter, Announces a $5 Million Museum Endowment in Their Honor

Left to right: former Governor Haley Barbour, former President Bill Clinton, and former MS Supreme Court Justice Reuben AndersonOn May 3, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) celebrated the lives of Governor William Winter and First Lady Elise Winter at the Two Mississippi Museums. During the ceremony, Spence Flatgard, MDAH board president, announced the completion of the initial funding goal of the William and Elise Winter Education Endowment, a $5 million fund created to underwrite field trips for Mississippi’s schoolchildren.

“The purpose of this endowment is to ensure that all Mississippi students have the opportunity to experience the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are grateful to the many supporters who gave to this effort, which was spearheaded by Governor and Mrs. Winter. We are especially grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which stepped up first with a generous gift. We are committed to continuing to build the William and Elise Winter Education Endowment, which will make a tremendous impact on future generations to come.”

The William and Elise Winter Education Endowment was created through the Foundation for Mississippi History to memorialize Mississippi’s former governor and first lady and their commitment to education and preservation.

Former President Bill Clinton, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson celebrated the lives of William and Elise Winter at the Two Mississippi Museums. “The minute I met Bill Winter,” said Clinton, “I never had a scintilla of doubt that whatever happened in our friendship, whatever happened in his life, I was with one of the most authentic people I would ever know.”

Before the ceremony, museums director Pamela D.C. Junior led President Clinton on a tour through the Civil Rights Museum.

The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra provided music and the Clinton High School Arrow Singers, Pearl High School Pearl Singers, and Warren Central High School Viking Singers performed together during the ceremony.

To view the video of the ceremony click here.

 

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Joseph Ewoodzie Jr., Carla Shedd to Discuss Getting Something to Eat in Jackson: Race, Class, and Food in the American South

On Friday, April 15 at 2 p.m., Joseph Ewoodzie Jr. and Carla Shedd will discuss Ewoodzie’s new book Getting Something to Eat in Jackson: Race, Class, and Food in the American South in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at the Two Mississippi Museums.  

 Ewoodzie will speak about the ways in which food availability, choice, and consumption vary between classes of Black Jacksonians, and how this reflects and shapes their different experiences of a shared racial identity. Then he will lead a discussion with the Jacksonians portrayed in his book. Carla Shedd, a sociologist at City University of New York (CUNY) and Jacksonian, will discuss the importance of doing this type of sociological work and writing about the South.  

 Chef Enrika Williams will provide light appetizers for the event. 

 A book sale and signing will follow.    

 The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—Two Mississippi Museums—are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. Hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information visit the MDAH Facebook page email info@mdah.ms.gov.  

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Eddie Glaude to Speak at the Two Mississippi Museums April 28

Eddie S. Glaude Jr., educator, author, political commentator, and public intellectual will deliver the Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture on Thursday, April 28, at 6 p.m. at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. The event is free and open to the public. 

“I am thrilled that a Mississippi native as distinguished as Eddie Glaude is coming home to participate in our lecture series,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “I am also excited for his first visit to the Two Mississippi Museums.”

Glaude, a native of Moss Point, is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. His writings include Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, and his most recent book, New York Times bestseller Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.

He frequently appears in the media as a columnist for TIME Magazine and on television.

The Medgar Wiley Evers Lecture Series was established in 2003 to honor the legacy of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, one year after Myrlie Evers made an extraordinary gift to the people of Mississippi when she presented the Medgar and Myrlie Evers papers to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). Previous Evers lecturers include Lonnie Bunch, Henry Louis Gates, Manning Marable, and Robert P. Moses. The series is supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

In 2014, the Kellogg Foundation awarded $2.3 million to MDAH to support programming at the Two Mississippi Museums and fund a partnership between MDAH and the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute. The lecture will be held at the Two Mississippi Museums, located at 222 North St. in Jackson. For more information, call 601-576-6850 or visit http://www.mdah.ms.gov.

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Unita Blackwell Property Added to National Register of Historic Places

The Unita Blackwell Property, the property of the first African American woman in the state elected to the office of mayor, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The United States Secretary of the Interior approved the addition upon the recommendation of the Mississippi National Register Review Board.

“I am ecstatic about this news. I am humbled that the family matriarch is being honored in this fashion,” said the son of Blackwell, Jeremiah Blackwell Jr.

The Unita Blackwell Property consists of the Freedom House, the Ranch House, and the neighbor’s shotgun house.

The Freedom House was Blackwell’s primary residence and was used to host numerous civil rights meetings between the years of 1964-1970. The Freedom House hosted many groups associated with the Civil Rights Movement as well such as the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Ranch House was added for its association to Blackwell’s productive life during her career as mayor of Mayersville, and its use for political work sessions and meetings during her Mayorship. Lastly, the neighbor’s shotgun house was add for its architectural significance and association to the civil rights leader.

The Lighthouse | Black Girl Projects wrote the nomination for the Unita Blackwell property and will work to operate the site as a community center in the future.

"We are thrilled to have played a role in the first steps toward institutionalizing the legacy of the Honorable Unita Blackwell, by having her former home named to the National Registry. The next steps for us is building a museum worthy of her name and her comrades," said president and founder Natalie Collier. "Such a space will not only be a gathering space in Mayersville, but will also remind the Mississippi Delta, Mississippians and beyond of the dignity, tenacity and charm of a Black woman who succeeded in “Barefootin’” her way to personal, civil and humanitarian freedom. Ms. Unita has long-since been a point of personal inspiration, so I’m grateful her son, Jeremiah, worked with us to achieve this milestone."

“Unita Blackwell was an amazing local leader and trailblazer. Her story is one that everyone should know,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “I am so glad her property is being preserved for future generations.”

The National Register of Historic Places was established by Congress in 1966 to help identify and protect historically significant properties. National Register properties enrich our understanding of local, state, and national history by representing significant events and developments, the contributions of notable people, and important types of buildings and architectural styles. National Register listing can also help preserve these important properties through tax benefits, grant assistance, and protection from demolition or development.

National Register listing does not restrict a private owner's use of the property, unless development of the property involves federal funding, federal rehabilitation tax credits, or participation in some other federal program. There are no requirements for public accessibility, and information about sensitive sites can be restricted from the public.

By preserving Mississippi's diverse historic resources, and sharing them with people around the world, MDAH inspires discovery of stories that connect our lives and shape our future. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Mississippi Historical Society Meets, Awards Prizes

The Mississippi Historical Society held its annual meeting March 10-11 in Hattiesburg to honor its 2022 award winners, including the best Mississippi History Book of 2021, the lifetime achievement award, teacher of the year, and awards of merit.

Ellie J. Dahmer, widow of Vernon Dahmer, received the Lifetime Achievement Award for preserving the memory and accomplishments of Vernon Dahmer and promoting civil rights education.

Christian Pinnen, associate professor of history at Mississippi College, received the Book of the Year Award for Complexion of Empire in Natchez: Race and Slavery in the Mississippi Borderlands. According to the selection committee, “Pinnen weaves together legal history, race, and gender to show how the interplay of Native Americans, people of African descent, and European and American settlers created the changing landscape of slavery in early Mississippi.”

Stuart Levin won the Journal of Mississippi History Article of the Year Award for “Beeson Academy/Hattiesburg Prep: A History in Context,” which recounted the formation of a segregation academy in the 1960s.

The Outstanding Local Historical Society Award was presented to the Dancing Rabbit Genealogy and Historical Society for its preservation work in Carthage.

The Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Steven R. White of Pearl High School.

Awards of Merit were presented to Deborah Delgado for being the founder and director of the Historic Mobile Street Renaissance Festival, which for seventeen years has raised awareness about the historical importance of Mobile Street as a hub for civil rights activism in Hattiesburg; Glenda Funchess for leading the effort to erect four historical markers civil rights markers in Hattiesburg: Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Vernon Dahmer home, Rev. W.D. Ridgeway, and Peay v. Cox federal court case; Edwina Carpenter for modernizing the interpretation at the Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center at Brices Crossroads in Baldwyn; Russell Guerin for writing Early Hancock County, A Few of Her People and Some of Their Stories; Else N. Martin for restoration and preservation of the Granly Danish-American colony in Jackson County; Friends of Raymond for providing funding to secure almost 44 acres at Raymond to preserve land at the site of the

Battle of Raymond in 1863; Institute of Southern Jewish Life for their virtual vacation program featuring Mississippi sites; the Historical Society of Gulfport for the digitization of the Ralph Bean Architectural Collection as the Gulfport Museum of History’s initial entry in the Mississippi Digital Library; the Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County for their excellent virtual programming featuring history during the pandemic; the African American Military History Museum for recognizing and celebrating the service and sacrifice of African Americans in the military; the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum for serving as the military history museum for the state of Mississippi; Visit Hattiesburg for creating the Freedom Summer Driving Tour; and The Admissions Project, an online project on how private academies and public schools dealt with integration through firsthand accounts of students.

Millsaps professor Stephanie Rolph completed her term as president of the Society and welcomed new president Daphne Chamberlain of Tougaloo College. Will Bowlin of Northeast Mississippi Community College was elected vice president. New board members are Roscoe Barnes, cultural heritage tourism manager at Visit Natchez; Barbara Boschert of Coahoma Community College; Keena Graham, Superintendent of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument; Anne Marshall, executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University; Perry Sansing, special assistant to the chancellor for governmental affairs; and TJ Taylor, executive director of the Mississippi Cable Television Association (MCTA).

The Mississippi Historical Society, founded in 1858, encourages outstanding work in interpreting, teaching, and preserving Mississippi history. Membership is open to anyone; benefits include receiving the Journal of Mississippi History, the Mississippi History Newsletter, and discounts at the Mississippi Museum Store. For information on becoming a member visit www.mississippihistory.org.

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Former President Bill Clinton, Former Governor Haley Barbour to Honor Lives of Governor William and Elise Winter

On Tuesday, May 3, 2022, MDAH will celebrate the lives of Governor William Winter and First Lady Elise Winter at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. The event is sponsored by Jones Walker LLP and the Foundation for Mississippi History.

Program speakers will include President Bill Clinton, the forty-second president of the United States; former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour; and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson.

Soon after William F. Winter’s death in 2020, Governor Haley Barbour described Winter to Mississippi Today as “a gentleman, honorable and gracious. While our politics didn’t always coincide, I’ve always admired him. He made great changes in the structure of Mississippi’s K-12 educational system . . . He and Mrs. Winter, who is a delightful, gracious lady, represented our state very well, both while he was in elected office and afterwards.”

William F. Winter served as Governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. He had previously been elected to the state legislature, and to the offices of the state tax collector, state treasurer, and lieutenant governor. His term as governor has been nationally acclaimed for the groundbreaking passage of education reform legislation. He was later appointed to President Bill Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race.

Throughout his political career, Elise Winter campaigned for William Winter, and she was a trusted advisor and policy advocate to her husband when he was elected to office. When Elise Winter was the state’s First Lady, she helped shepherd her husband’s key legislation and hosted social gatherings for prominent Mississippians at the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion.

Elise Winter advocated for improving the living conditions of imprisoned people, worked to increase funding for state correctional institutions, and campaigned for the construction of family visitor’s center at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and a separate prison for women in Pearl. She was a founder, fundraiser, and volunteer of the Jackson area chapter of Habitat for Humanity, which has constructed more than 600 homes in the metro area for those in need. Elise Winter was recognized for her steadfast commitment to volunteer service during the 2015 Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence Awards.

“With Elise Winter by his side, Governor Winter enjoyed a remarkable political career, but his commitment to public service extended well beyond electoral office,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “He led the MDAH Board of Trustees for nearly fifty years, making an unmistakable impact on the department and the state.”

William F. Winter joined the MDAH Board of Trustees in 1957. During his time as board president, Winter oversaw the opening of the Eudora Welty House & Garden, the restoration of the Old Capitol, and the construction of a state-of-the-art archives and history building that the state legislature named for him.

Winter also encouraged the department to strengthen its focus on African American history in Mississippi, acquiring significant collections of papers, mounting award-winning exhibits, and offering grants for the preservation of sites associated with African American history. Most notably, his close friendship with Myrlie Evers led to her decision to donate the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Collection to MDAH in 2002.

The opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in 2017 is Winter’s greatest legacy at MDAH. Winter helped convince state leaders of the need to build the Two Mississippi Museums, and he was instrumental in securing public and private funds for the project.

MDAH director Katie Blount said, “These museums stand at the intersection of William Winter’s greatest passions—history, education, and racial justice. Generations of young people will come here to experience the stories that have shaped our state and nation.”

More details about the celebration will be released at a later date. For more information visit mdah.ms.gov. 

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Inaugural Mississippi Makers Fest to Kick Off the World of Marty Stuart Exhibit at Two Mississippi Museums

The World of Marty Stuart exhibit will debut at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson on Saturday, May 7, coinciding with the inaugural Mississippi Makers Fest, a music, food, and arts festival on the museum grounds.

“We are thrilled to host The World of Marty Stuart exhibit and can’t think of a better way to kick it off than with the Mississippi Makers Fest,” said Pamela Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “Marty represents what it means to be a creative and hardworking Mississippian, and that’s what this festival will celebrate. We have a phenomenal musical lineup and several incredible food and art vendors from across the state.”

The World of Marty Stuart explores Stuart’s life and his legacy of collecting country music’s stories. The exhibit includes hundreds of items never shown before in Mississippi, including Marty’s first guitar, original handwritten Hank Williams manuscripts, guitars from Merle Haggard and Pops Staples, costumes from Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, personal items from Johnny Cash, including his first black performance suit, and much more.

"It’s been incredible to work on this exhibit with Marty Stuart, a true pioneer in the preservation of country music history," said Shane Keil, MDAH director of curatorial services. "The World of Marty Stuart not only showcases Stuart’s phenomenal artifact collection but highlights his journey to country music stardom. Visitors will see the role and influence of his small town Mississippi upbringing that took him to the world stage and ultimately has brought him back home."

The World of Marty Stuart is brought to you by the title sponsor, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, as well as by AT&T and Visit Mississippi. Visit mdah.ms.gov to learn more about the exhibit.

“Marty Stuart embodies the diligent and innovative nature of Mississippians,” said Sheila Grogan, Vice President of Community and Public Relations at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. “Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi is proud to sponsor this opportunity for the community to learn more about his roots and storytelling at the Two Mississippi Museums.”

To celebrate the launch of the exhibit, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will host the inaugural Mississippi Makers Fest. North Mississippi Allstars will headline the all-day music festival. Other performers include Mr. Sipp, Framing the Red, Chapel Hart, the Chad Wesley Band, 5th Child, and more. Entergy Plaza at the museums will be packed with dozens of art and food vendors for this free event dedicated to celebrating Mississippi creativity in all forms.

Mississippi Makers Fest is brought to you by the title sponsor, Southern Beverage Company, as well as by Nancy and Ray Neilsen, New South Radio, Visit Jackson, Visit Mississippi, C Spire, StateStreet Group, and the Foundation for Mississippi History. Visit msmakersfest.mdah.ms.gov to learn more.

“Having begun in Jackson, Mississippi in 1939, Southern Beverage Company is exceptionally excited to support local artists and makers,” said Theo P. Costas, President and CEO of Southern Beverage Co., Inc. “We feel like the Mississippi Makers Fest will be the perfect opportunity for Mississippi creatives to display their craft. We are honored to support the first Mississippi Makers Fest and look forward to its success and future.”

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"Emerging Grace: Andrew Bucci's Early Works" Runs through March 12

Andrew Bucci self portraits

The special exhibition Emerging Grace: Andrew Bucci’s Early Works is on display in the lobby of the William F. Winter Archives & History Building. The exhibition opened on January 12, the centennial birthday of Andrew Bucci. In honor of this special day, the first History Is Lunch program of 2022 featured Margaret Bucci and Beth Batton, curator of the Emerging Grace exhibit. Watch the Andrew Bucci HIL here. The artifacts showcased in this exhibit are from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s (MDAH) Andrew Bucci Collection. The collection was donated to the department in January 2021 by the Andrew Bucci Estate.  

“Andrew Bucci’s lifelong involvement in the Mississippi arts community played a central role in his artistic journey and in his extraordinary creative legacy. It’s a story that is richly documented in the sketchbooks, scrapbooks and biographical materials that constitute the new Andrew Bucci Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History,” said the niece of Andrew Bucci, Margaret Bucci. “By donating these treasures to MDAH, Andrew’s estate wishes to honor, preserve, and illuminate his life’s work and help cultivate a deeper understanding of one of Mississippi’s most revered visual artists.” 

The free exhibit runs through March 12 at the William F. Winter Archives & History Building. Hours are Monday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Tuesday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.; and Saturday, 8 a.m.–1 p.m.  

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is the second-oldest state department of archives and history in the United States. The department collects, preserves, and provides access to the archival resources of the state, administers various museums and historic sites, and oversees statewide programs for historic preservation, state and local government records management, and publications. For more information call 601-576-6850 or email info@mdah.ms.gov. 

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History Is Lunch: Legislators to Discuss New State Flag

On Wednesday, March 2, at noon, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History will host legislators for a special History Is Lunch program–Finding Common Ground: Lawmakers and the New Flag. Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Senator Briggs Hopson, Senator Derrick Simmons, and Representative Robert Johnson will discuss the process of adopting the new Mississippi flag.

“MDAH was proud to support the Flag Commission in its historic work,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are happy to be hosting legislators for History Is Lunch to talk about the transformation that the new flag has brought to our state.”

In 2020, the Mississippi legislature passed a bill that removed the 126-year-old state flag and created a commission that would be responsible for choosing a new design to be on the November statewide ballot.

The design selected by the commission was supported overwhelmingly by the voters, ratified by the legislature as the new state flag, and signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves. This program will take place in the auditorium of the Two Mississippi Museums, the same room where the flag commission met and the bill signing took place.

MDAH livestreams videos of the program at noon on Wednesdays click here.

To view this event after air time click here.

The weekly History Is Lunch lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson.

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