The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will focus on the period 1945–1976 and tell the story of the struggle for equal rights and fair treatment under the law. This will be the nation’s first state-operated civil rights museum.
Community meetings for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum were held in 2011-2012 in Cleveland, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Holly Springs, Itta Bena, Jackson, McComb, and Philadelphia to gather suggestions for the museum and stories of local people involved in the civil rights movement.
“African American culture is at the very center of American history and culture,” Dr. John Fleming, former executive director of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center and consultant for Hilferty & Associates, told the attendants at one meeting. “If we do this right it will tell the whole story, but we can only tell the whole story if you are willing to be an active participant in that process”
Using input gathered from the community meetings, an advisory scholars group, and the MCRM Advisory Commission, Hilferty & Associates developed a schematic plan for the museum. The story of the African American Mississippian’s struggle for freedom and justice will be told through eight thematic galleries of exhibits encircling a central gallery, This Little Light of Mine, which will serve as an entryway to the other exhibits.
This central gallery will carry the theme of the entire museum: that throughout Mississippi, ordinary people engaged in an extraordinary struggle to make real America’s promise of equal rights for all. A stunning sculpture and music honoring civil rights veterans will be the focus of this dramatic light-filled space.