Foundation for Mississippi History Receives $250K from Entergy Mississippi for Historic Jefferson College

Entergy Mississippi’s grant of $250,000 to the Foundation for Mississippi History will support the restoration of Raymond Hall as part of a new initiative by the Mississippi Department of Archives at History (MDAH) on the campus of Historic Jefferson College in Washington.

MDAH is developing the Natchez Center for American History (NCAH) at Historic Jefferson College. The $20 million project will include two components: a preservation field school and an interpretive center.

Raymond Hall will be restored and equipped with modern building systems to provide classroom space and housing for what will become the region’s first preservation field school. MDAH preservation professionals and faculty from regional universities will provide hands-on, in-the-field learning to develop the next generation of the preservation workforce.

The restoration project at Historic Jefferson College is a prime example of Mississippians working to better our communities and create opportunities for the next generation,” said Haley Fisackerly, president and CEO, of Entergy Mississippi. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to develop an institution that will prepare Mississippians for employment in a sector that is woefully short of meeting demand. Not only is it a beautiful site that will play an important role in southwest Mississippi’s tourism, but this effort will also cultivate a strong workforce with diverse skills critical to helping Mississippi’s economy thrive.

The campus is an 80-acre site with eight main buildings and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. The first building at the college was completed in 1820 as the cotton economy built on slavery was expanding and generating vast wealth.

Restoration and development of Historic Jefferson College are key components of MDAH’s strategic plan for southwest Mississippi, where it operates two other historic sites—the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez and Windsor Ruins near Port Gibson.

Historic Jefferson College will one day be a gateway for visitors, sharing the powerful stories of the Native American experience, conflicts among Colonial powers, westward expansion, statehood, slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction, said Katie Blount, director of MDAH. We will bring visitors to Jefferson College and then send them out across the region to see the places where history happened.

Historic Jefferson College was Mississippi’s first institution of higher learning and the birthplace of statehood, where delegates gathered to write the state’s first constitution. Jefferson College operated for many years as a preparatory school and later as Jefferson Military College. It served briefly as a Freedmen’s Bureau after the Civil War.

In addition to the grant from Entergy Mississippi, MDAH has secured state and federal funds to support the project. The Foundation for Mississippi History will continue to seek private support.

Entergy Mississippi has generously supported other MDAH projects including the Two Mississippi Museums and the William and Elise Winter Education Endowment.



History Happy Hour: Food

Enjoy our History Happy Hour at 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 16, at the Two Mississippi Museums! The event includes free admission, live entertainment, and refreshments from Nick Wallace Culinary. Two Mississippi Museum members will receive a complimentary drink. There will be interactive flash tours through the museums to learn about the history of food in Mississippi. The Mississippi Museum Store will also be open!

Remembering Hollis Watkins, Veteran of Mississippi Civil Rights Movement 

A native of Mississippi, Hollis Watkins, was born in 1941 and grew up on a small farm in Chisholm Mission and became one of the first young Mississippians to commit to full-time work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Watkins also served as founder and president of the Pike County Nonviolent Direct Action Committee, field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and a county organizer in the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project.

Inspired by civil rights leader Bob Moses, Watkins began organizing local voter registration drives within the Pike County community. He organized one of the first sit-ins in McComb at a Woolworth’s lunch counter with fellow activist Curtis Hayes and was arrested and jailed multiple times for participating in various demonstrations.

Watkins was known for his use of freedom songs as an inspiration to encourage others to join the movement. He traveled across the state and worked on voter registration campaigns with other civil rights leaders such as Vernon Dahmer. Watkins was also involved in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party that challenged the state’s all-white delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

“Hollis Watkins dedicated his entire life to improving the lives of Black Mississippians,” said Michael Morris, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “He was heavily involved in the creation of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, lending his voice to the museum’s central gallery. Museum staff are disheartened to learn of his death, but his legacy continues to inspire us.”

In 1989, Watkins co-founded Southern Echo, a community organization which works to develop leaders and empower local residents in support of the welfare of African American communities throughout Mississippi. He also served as chair of the Veteran of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Watkins was honored with a Fannie Lou Hamer Humanitarian Award from Jackson State University in 2011 and received an honorary doctorate from Tougaloo College in 2015.

Watkins died on September 20, 2023, at the age of 82.


Two Mississippi Museums to Host Community Solidarity Day

Join us at the Two Mississippi Museums on Sunday, September 17, from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. for Community Solidarity Day to coincide with the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People's Campaign.  Inspired by the mission of the Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City of 1968, Community Solidarity Day will provide visitors with an afternoon of free health, wellness, and family-friendly activities.   

Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center will host a health fair in the Nancy and Ray Neilsen Hall of History, offering services and screenings including COVID vaccines, blood pressure and glucose level checks, dental education, HIV testing and eye exams. Staff from the Healthy Start program will be available to offer health information for parents and kids. They will also have a mobile unit parked outside on North Street.   

Soul Center art activities for youth and their families will also be set up in the Hall of History, including activities based on elements of Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People's Campaign exhibit.  

All day: Soul Center craft activities–Nancy and Ray Neilsen Hall of History 

11:00 a.m.: Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health–Nancy and Ray Neilsen Hall of History. 

1:00 p.m.: Guided tour of Solidarity Now exhibit–Medgar and Myrlie Evers Exhibition Hall 

1:30 p.m.: Freedom Songs from Johnson Elementary–Lobby 

2:00 p.m.: Cooking demonstration with Nick Wallace–Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium  

2:30 p.m.: Dance performance by Montage–Mezzanine level 

3:00 p.m.: Guided tour of Solidarity Now exhibit–Medgar and Myrlie Evers Exhibition Hall  

3:30 p.m.: Yoga with Maya Morris–Craig H. Neilsen auditorium 

Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People's Campaign traveling exhibit, on view through September 24, explores a pivotal grassroots movement of the civil rights era: the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968. The exhibition examines the six-week protest community in Washington D.C. that called the nation’s attention to the effects of poverty on millions of Americans.   

For more information call, 610-576-6580, visit the MDAH Facebook page, or email             


Community Heritage Preservation Grant Program Accepting Applications

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) is accepting grant applications for preservation projects across the state. The 2023 Mississippi Legislature has provided funding for the Community Heritage Preservation Grant program (CHPG) and the Mississippi Historic Site Preservation Grant program (HSPG).


The Community Heritage Preservation Grant program helps preserve, restore, rehabilitate, and interpret Mississippi courthouses and schools across the state. In communities that participate in the Certified Local Government (CLG) program, buildings other than courthouses and schools are also eligible, if they have been designated as Mississippi Landmarks.

There are currently over fifty Certified Local Government communities in Mississippi. State agencies, county or municipal governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status may submit applications. A cash match of at least twenty percent is required, and grants will be paid on a reimbursable basis upon successful completion of the project. To learn which communities have Certified Local Government designation click here.


The Historic Site Preservation Grant program offers grants for the acquisition of sites related to Civil War battles, Native American archaeology, and civil rights history. Grants, which require a one-to-one match, can be used for land acquisition and property preservation costs. Colleges and universities, historical societies, state agencies, local governments, and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.

Guidelines and applications may be downloaded for both opportunities from the MDAH website under the Grant Programs section of the Preservation Planning and Development page. The deadline to submit completed applications is September 29, 2023, before 5 p.m.

The MDAH Board of Trustees will award the grants at its quarterly meeting in January 2024. For more information call 601-576-6940 or email


MDAH Awarded $187,059 by National Endowment for the Humanities for 2024 Teacher Workshops on Civil Rights Movement 

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) has been awarded $187,059 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to present two workshops on teaching civil rights history. 

This MDAH project was awarded as part of the National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of History and Culture Grant program, and it will mark the 60th anniversary of a pivotal event in American history, 1964’s Freedom Summer. MDAH will partner with National History Day to coordinate and lead the program. 

Seventy teachers from across the nation will have the opportunity to attend one of two weeklong workshops starting at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson, and then traveling to specific locations in the state that were central to the historic events of Freedom Summer. 

“This grant is an incredible opportunity for us to show how this landmark event goes beyond Mississippi history; it's truly a national event,” said Al Wheat, MDAH director of education. “Bringing teachers from across the country to Mississippi to see our sites, analyze our primary sources, and visit locations where the history actually happened will make a positive impact not just on workshop attendees, but on their students." 

Teachers will learn about the civil rights events in 1964 that changed Mississippi and the nation. The workshops, which will run from July 8–12, 2024, and July 22–26, 2024, will consist of two different groups of K-12 teachers, with 35 per group, who will gather at the Two Mississippi Museums and the MDAH archives to interact with historians, Civil Rights Movement veterans, educators, and museum professionals. Teachers will collaborate to develop inquiry-based classroom activities and lessons about Freedom Summer using primary sources found in MDAH’s archives and experiential, site-based learning at the Two Mississippi Museums and key civil rights sites across Mississippi.  

The Landmarks of American History and Culture program supports a series of one-week residential, virtual, and combined format workshops across the nation that enhance and strengthen how K-12 educators, higher education faculty, and humanities professionals study sites, areas, or regions of historic and cultural significance and incorporate place-based teaching and learning in the humanities. 

National Endowment for the Humanities: Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at


Community Solidarity Day

Join us at noon on Sunday, September 17, for Community Solidarity Day at the Two Mississippi Museums. Inspired by the mission of the Poor People's Campaign and Resurrection City of 1968, Community Solidarity Day features an afternoon of health screenings by the Hinds County Comprehensive Health Center, a cooking demonstration by Nick Wallace, a yoga class, and other activities that coincide with our traveling exhibit, Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People's Campaign. For more information, contact 601-576-6850 or email

Free Admission: Hezekiah Watkins' Birthday

In celebration of civil rights veteran Hezekiah Watkins' birthday, the Two Mississippi Museums will host a free admission day on Friday, September 1. Visitors are invited to listen to Watkins' story of being a Freedom Rider at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the This Little Light of Mine gallery, purchase a signed copy of his book Pushing Forward, and enjoy a cupcake in honor of his birthday. For more information, contact 601-576-6850 or email

FedEx to Sponsor 2024 Free MLK, Jr. Weekend at the Two Mississippi Museums

Thanks to the continued support of FedEx, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History will offer three days of free admission in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in January 2024.

Over 3,600 people visited the museums during the 2023 FedEx-sponsored free weekend, with the annual MLK Night of Culture drawing a crowd of 400 people for a diverse, evening showcase of live entertainment.

“FedEx has long invested in community organizations, such as those honoring the legacy of the many heroes of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Jerome Heard, FedEx DEI communications specialist. “FedEx is proud to continue supporting the Two Mississippi Museums and their efforts to help visitors connect with Dr. King’s legacy.”

Dr. King’s involvement in Mississippi included visiting Greenwood in support of Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964, testifying in support of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) during the 1964 Democratic National Convention, and continuing James Meredith’s March Against Fear from Memphis to Jackson, following the assassination attempt against Meredith in 1966.   

“We are grateful to FedEx for continuing their generous sponsorship of our Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration,” said Michael Morris, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “Welcoming the public into the museums as guests of FedEx is a magnificent way to honor this important holiday.”  

For more information, call 601-576-6850, or email



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