The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund

For Blues, Music, and Justice

Riverside Hotel Community Archive

 
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Community Scanning Days

Community Scanning Days

Saturday May 11 and Sunday May 12

10am to 7pm

Delta Blues Alley Cafe

Clarksdale, MS 

Do you have precious family photos, old letters, or other important historical documents that you would like to digitally preserve and pass down to future generations? The Riverside Hotel is partnering with the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund to help digitally preserve your history! We will have several scanning stations and computers setup to digitize your important photos and documents. We will digitize your materials and provide you with digital copies on FREE external flash drives.

 

THIS SERVICE IS COMPLETELY FREE!

We will also be giving away special prizes to folks who bring in older photographs and documents that help us preserve the history of Clarksdale and Coahoma County!

Join us at the Delta Blues Alley Cafe on Saturday, May 11 and Sunday May 12 from 10am to 7pm and help us preserve your local history!

Please contact MZMF project director Shannon Evans for more information!

(+206) 817 9959

tsevans@mtzionmemorialfund.org

 

Donate to the Mt Zion Memorial Fund for Blues Music and Justice

Our Mission

To prevent the erasure of cultural resources in African American communities by promoting the responsible practice of public history and heritage tourism.

Our Vision

We envision communities where people reach a consensus about the past, understand its nuance and complexity, and bring their curiosity about history to bear on the world.

Donate to support our Projects

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.

Eric Johnson and Jimmy Peoples of Columbus Marble Works after installing the memorial at St James MB Church Cemetery in June 2023 (Photo © Shannon Evans 2023)
Eric Johnson and Jimmy Peoples of Columbus Marble Works after installing the memorial at St James MB Church Cemetery in June 2023 (Photo © Shannon Evans 2023)

Shannon Evans Vice President

Working with the descendants of blues artists, such as Mary Frances Hurt, the granddaughter of Mississippi John Hurt, our Mississippi non-profit promotes the inclusive and responsible practice of memorialization and historic preservation in African American communities.

Photo: Shannon Evans and Dr. Brian Mitchell, the Director of Research at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, at St. James MB Church Cemetery in Avalon, MS

Research Blog

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Hollywood Cemetery

Holly Ridge Cemetery

Tutwiler Cemetery

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 WEBATLAS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN BURIAL GROUNDS: 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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