Hancock Bank has made a $50,000 contribution to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for the 2 Mississippi Museums project. The gift will sponsor the “Sitting In” section of the “Tremor in the Iceberg” gallery of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.
The gallery documents the escalation of civil rights activities in the early 1960s that led to national and international media attention being focused on Mississippi. In the “Sitting In” section, visitors will learn of the courage, daring, and tactical brilliance of early sit-ins and other protests, which provoked violent responses while shining a bright light on injustice.
“We are grateful for the very generous support from Hancock Bank,” said Foundation for Mississippi History board member William F. Winter. “They have played a historic role in the development of both the Gulf Coast and the state of Mississippi, and it is no surprise they are supporting a project as important as these two museums.”
The presentation was made as part of a public ceremony honoring the civil rights protestors who in 1959, 1960, and 1963 through “wade-ins” challenged racial segregation of the Biloxi Beach.
“As a Mississippi-born and -based company, Hancock Bank is proud to support the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” said Hancock Holding Company president and CEO John M. Hairston. “These landmarks will help people appreciate the talent, tradition, struggle, and resilience that are so much a part of our state’s history. Hancock Bank was founded to create opportunities, so we’re especially honored and humbled to earmark this donation to commemorate the Mississippi Coast wade-ins and other public protests and pay tribute to the commitment and sacrifice that led to a new era of equal opportunity across America.”
Construction of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum began in December 2013. The first phase, including the building exterior and public parking garage, was completed in fall 2015. Phase two, interior construction, is underway and will last 16 months. The museums will open in December 2017 as the centerpiece of the state’s bicentennial celebration.
The Mississippi Legislature has invested $90 million to date in funds for construction and exhibits for the 2 Mississippi Museums. The Legislature required a dollar-for-dollar match for the exhibits. The Foundation for Mississippi History has raised $15.2 million toward the $17 million campaign goal.
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. It will be the nation’s first state-operated civil rights museum. The story of the African American Mississippians’ struggle for freedom and justice will be told through seven 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.
The Museum of Mississippi History will explore the entire sweep of the state’s history, from earliest times to the present. The museum collection dates back to the early twentieth century and the founding of MDAH. Initially housed in the state capitol, the State History Museum operated in the Old Capitol from 1961 until 2005 when damage from Hurricane Katrina forced the closing of the building.
MDAH has the world’s finest collection of Mississippi artifacts, including a rare 1818 twenty-star U.S. flag, an original Bowie knife, quilts made by enslaved people, and prehistoric Native American artifacts.
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