The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund
For Blues, Music, and Justice
Our work is about saving the soul of Mississippi.
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.
In this blog post, archival research specialist Dr. Abdul Ajibola takes a trip to the Mississippi Department of Archives & History in Jackson and makes some amazing discoveries in death certificates from 1912-1926.
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.