Proud to Take a Stand Monument: Parchman Ordeal
Our mission is to memorialize and commemorate those who were unjustly arrested in Natchez, MS. October 2-5, 1965 by establishing a monument in honor of those wronged for taking a stand against racism and injustices against blacks in Natchez.
About this project
The south is no stranger to racial division. Natchez, MS. in the early 1960s was heir to segregation, oppression, and a local tourism economy built on a promotion of white antebellum culture and the motto "Where the Old South Still Lives." Now, 53 years later, after hundreds of black Natchez citizens faced unjust, harsh imprisonment at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, the city plans to memorialize those involved in the infamous ordeal by remembering those who took a stand against injustice with a monument.
KKK violence, public marches in Natchez streets, and harassment in retaliation for earl voter registration activities led to a climate of unrest in Natchez by early 1960s. The assassination of Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers in Jackson and the powerful stand by Rosa Parks in Montgomery were inspirational events to young local activists in Natchez.
With tension on the rise, a list of 12 demands were presented to the Natchez government, with a threat of marches to follow if they were not met. The list included:
1. For the mayor and board of aldermen to denounce the KKK publicly.
2. Equal employment opportunities for blacks, including positions on the police force.
3. To desegregate all public accommodations in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
To provide equal public services to residents in Negro sections of Natchez.
5. To desegregate Natchez schools and appoint blacks to the school board.
The Mayor and Board rejected the demands. On Saturday, October 2nd, more than 300 people lined up to march in defiance of the injunction; another 150 planned to march Sunday. Though these marches were to begin from two baptist churches downtown, the participants were picked up immediately on the sidewalks in front of the churches before the marches could proceed and taken to the Natchez City Auditorium for holding.
All were arrested on charges of parading without a permit, and with the local jail filled, those over 12 years of age were sent to Parchman Penitentiary, more than 200 miles away. At Parchman everyone was stripped of their clothing. Men and boys were kept naked and housed and placed in cells that was only intended for 2, but with more than 10, with fans blowing and windows left open to the cold air at night. Women and girls were hosed down but allowed to keep their underwear on. All were given laxatives and allowed only minimal toilet paper. They were left to find their own way back to Natchez, with most being back within 5 days. The KKK harassed and threaded those who drive north to assist or check on them.
More than 100 marchers were arrested on October 4th, bringing the total number of those arrested in Natchez to more than 500.
The Monument will memorialize those who were unjustly arrested in Natchez in 1965 and reconcile the list of names. The location of the monument will be historically significant to the event and placed at The Natchez City Auditorium, the same location where the black Natchez citizens who took a stand were bused and sent to Parchman.
The location will offer a meaningful visitor experience and gathering place that has a lasting quality.
The monument will be 6-foot-tall, 12-foot-long. It will house more than 150 names of those sent to the state penitentiary at Parchman and a narrative that includes the city’s resolution passed in 2015 apologizing for the events that occurred in 1965.
Natchez Mayor Darryl V. Grennell formed a commission chaired by Robert Pernell titled "The Proud to Take a Stand Monument Committee" to ensure that the sacrifice and suffering of those individuals unjustly arrested is publicly acknowledged for years to come.
Members include: Chair Robert Pernell, Teresa Busby, Patricia Carroll, Sara Carter-Smith, Ronald Coleman, Liz Dantone, Delores McCullen, Jamal McCullen, Robert Morgan, Sheri Perry-Brown, Peggy Pierreport, Arrick Rice, and Darrell White.
How it works
Your contribution will help commemorate the men and women who sacrificed their well-being to insure that our black boys and girls today can have a bright future. Donations will go toward permits and the monument that will be placed at The Natchez City Auditorium.
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