The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

For Blues, Music, and Justice

Since 1989, the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund has served as a conduit to provide financial and technical support to African American church communities and cemeteries in Mississippi. We also provide memorials for blues musicians without grave markers, but our work isn’t some hollow gesture to honor the blues. The music is very important, to be sure, but it’s only the soundtrack. We save rural cemeteries by any means necessary–whether its erecting memorials, engaging legal remedies, or filling the vast silences in important historical landscapes. It’s about more than the blues. 

Our work is about saving the soul of Mississippi.

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Dr. DeWayne Moore Executive Director

Working with the descendants of blues artists, such as Kechia Patton Brown, the great granddaughter of Chas. Patton, our Mississippi non-profit promotes the inclusive and responsible practice of memorialization and historic preservation in African American communities.

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Hollywood Cemetery

Holly Ridge Cemetery

Tutwiler Cemetery

WE PUT BLUES COMMUNITIES BACK INTO AMERICAN HISTORY

Beginning with the ratification of the 1890 Mississippi State Constitution, which effectively disfranchised African American men and inspired white Mississippians to embrace more violent forms of racial discrimination, it became increasingly more difficult to preserve historical resources in African American Blues Communities. The formerly enslaved had steadily accumulated more and more land since emancipation and founded hundreds of autonomous  settlements across the South. Since the 1890s, the descendants of Blues Communities dispersed, leaving the status and locations of many communities unknown.

The erasure of Blues communities in Mississippi has picked up speed in recent years due to several interconnected and destructive factors. Natural disasters (floods), population loss (migration), urban renewal (gentrification), land dispossession (heir property), and the profound lingering effects of resource hoarding (racial segregation) have prevented Americans from realizing the original goals to the Civil Rights Movement, and the erasure of historic Blues communities has accelerated due to the descendant communities’ need for technical assistance and professional training in historical research methods, which is required to overcome the erasure of African American history in government records.

Henry Son Sims and Muddy Waters at Stovall Plantation
Henry _Son_ Sims Headstone
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THE BLUES COMMUNITIES PROJECT: OUR GOAL

In partnership with descendant communities, we hope to prevent the erasure and destruction of cultural resources–homes, churches, cemeteries, schools, photographs, documents, audiovisual media, physical artifacts, and oral histories–in African American Blues Communities. We plan to accomplish this goal by:

  • Documenting and preserving stories, media about African American Blues Communities
  • Constructing and maintaining an interactive, publicly accessible Archive & Atlas about African American Blues Communities
  • Identifying resources and co-developing resilience strategies with descendant communities
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Research is Respect
Research is Respect
1164 John Street, Greenville, MS 38703
We have offices in Greenville, Columbus, and Water Valley, MS
206-817-9959