After a complicated history of overt and violent racism, the state of Mississippi will attempt to acknowledge its past through the opening of its first ever civil rights museum. This historic moment for the state will happen on Saturday (Dec. 9), when The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opens. Yet, while this should be viewed as a monumental event for Mississippi and its residents, the occasion has been met with some tainted opinions.
Most of the backlash is centered around the president’s scheduled appearance at the grand opening. This was met with a roar of disapproval, leading to black leaders such as congressman Bennie G. Thompson and John Lewis refusing to show up. While most of the attention is centered around of Trump and the opening, there still has been a lot of interest in the artifact that will be on display. Among the memorabilia featured are a burned cross, the gun used to kill civil rights leader Medgar Evers, and the doors of Bryant Grocery store that Emmett Till touched before he was lynched.
The question of why these symbols of terror are on display has frequently been asked, to which Mississippi native and chair of African-American studies at Princeton, Eddie Glaude, Jr., has an answer.
“MS was ground zero,” Glaude explained to the Associated Press. “America can’t really turn the corner in regards to its racist and violent past and present until the South, and particularly MS, confronts it — and confronts it unflinchingly.”
It appears that Mississippi is doing just that. By placing significant, but harsh evidence of its racist past in the museum — like the cross that was burned in the yard of a white, Mississippi merchant who refused to fire a black employee — the Southern state is giving visitors a complete history. It’s something the director of the state of the department of archives, Katie Blount, stated as the goal of the museum.