Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Director Pamela Junior talks about the new museum’s central exhibition before presenting a question which may provoke introspection in visitors.
The world will get its first glimpse Saturday of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which feature 22,000 artifacts, plus photographs, videos and interactive exhibits.
Here are the top five must-see things at the museums:
5. The Royal portable manual typewriter that author Eudora Welty may have used to write some of her most famous works, including her 1953 novella, “The Ponder Heart,” her 1972 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Optimist’s Daughter,” and her short story, “Where Is This Voice Coming From?,” which she wrote in anger after Medgar Evers’ assassination in 1963. She owned the typewriter until 1979 when she donated it to New Stage Theater for auction. The typewriter was later donated to the state Department of Archives and History.
4. One of the most moving exhibits is “This Little Light of Mine,” which honors those who were killed in the civil rights movement, including Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer Sr. and others. Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer often sang “This Little Light of Mine” at civil rights rallies.
3. Parts of the pickup truck from the Ku Klux Klan’s attack on Vernon Dahmer Sr. and his family on Jan. 10, 1966. Dahmer died defending his family from the firebombing. The KKK leader who ordered the attack, Sam Bowers, was finally convicted on Aug. 21, 1998, and sentenced to life in prison where he died in 2006.
2. The 30.06 Enfield rifle that killed Mississippi NAACP leader Medgar Evers. Byron De La Beckwith shot Evers in the back as he was arriving home on June 12, 1963, just hours after President John F. Kennedy delivered his first civil rights address. Beckwith was finally convicted on Feb. 5, 1994, and sentenced to life in prison.
1. The doors of the Bryant Grocery Store that Emmett Till entered on Aug. 4, 1955. The events that followed, leading to Till’s death and his killers’ acquittals, would help propel the modern civil rights movement in the U.S.
Bonus: Before leaving town, check out the Mississippi Museum of Art, which is featuring the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Walker Evans and many others, including Eudora Welty’s photographs, photographs from the civil rights movement that include a young Bob Dylan, and portraits of Medgar and Myrlie Evers.