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 republished ProPublica article, Seth Freed Wessler explains that, despite layers of federal and state regulations nominally intended to protect culturally significant sites, the expansion of a Microsoft data center inspired authorities in Virginia to desecrate a historic cemetery.
Shannon Evans details the similarities between plantation tourism and blues tourism, both of which employ similar mechanisms of erasure, nostalgia, and mythology. By relying on romanticized narratives that align with the expectations of white tourists, both blues and plantation tourism are detached from the historical realities of the African American experience.
WE PREVENT THE ERASURE OF AFRICAN AMERICAN BURIAL GROUNDS
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.
To prevent the erasure of cultural resources in African American communities by promoting the responsible practice of public history and heritage tourism.
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.