Museum of Mississippi History

FedEx Sponsors MLK Day Celebration at State History, Civil Rights Museums

FedEx Corporation is supporting free admission to the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 18. The museums will also open free of charge Sunday, January 17.

“We are grateful to FedEx Corporation for their continued support of our annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration,” said Katie Blount, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. "Their generosity allows us to invite the public to safely celebrate Dr. King's life at the museums and through virtual programming."

The museums will open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Safety precautions at museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines.

At 6 p.m. on Monday, January 18, the annual MLK Night of Culture program will livestream on the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Facebook page. Writer and poet C. Leigh McInnis will headline the event, which includes live painting, music, and spoken word performances by local artists. This year’s theme is “I Am a Man,” a declaration of the 1968 Memphis sanitation strikers. King joined activists Rev. James Lawson, T.O. Jones, and others in support of the sanitation strike.

A new special exhibition, I AM A MAN: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South, 1960–1970, will open at the museums Saturday, January 30, 2021. It will feature a wide range of photographs capturing key events of the Civil Rights Movement across the South, including James Meredith’s integration of the University of Mississippi, the sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, Martin Luther King’s funeral, and the Poor People’s Campaign.

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, the New Stage Theatre production The Debate for Democracy, a conversation between Martin Luther King Jr. organizer Ella Baker, and activist Fannie Lou Hamer, will livestream on the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Facebook page.

Dr. King’s involvement in Mississippi includes attending the funeral of NAACP state field secretary Medgar Evers in 1963, visiting Greenwood in support of Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964, and testifying in support of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) during the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

For more information, call 601-576-6800 or visit twomississippimuseums.com.

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Former Governor William F. Winter, Champion of History, Dies

William F. Winter led the MDAH Board of Trustees for nearly fifty years, making an unmistakable impact on the department and the state.

Winter’s greatest legacy at MDAH was the opening of the Two Mississippi Museums in 2017. Winter helped convince state leaders of the need to build the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and he was instrumental in securing public and private funds for the project. MDAH director Katie Blount said, “These museums stand at the intersection of William Winter’s greatest passions—history, education, and racial justice. Generations of young people will come here to experience the stories that have shaped our state and nation.”

As Winter said during the opening ceremony, “These museums will challenge all of us to have a better understanding of where we have come from, and then inspire us to work harder to find our common ideals and goals. We will find that we have much more in common than what might appear to divide us.”

William Winter joined the MDAH board in 1957, was elected president in 1969, and served in that role until 2007. During that time, he oversaw the opening of the Eudora Welty House, the restoration of the Old Capitol, and the construction of a state-of-the-art archives building that the state legislature named for him. 

Reuben V. Anderson, president of the MDAH Board of Trustees, recalled, “With his encouragement, MDAH strengthened its focus on African American history in Mississippi, acquiring significant collections of papers, mounting award-winning exhibits, and offering grants for the preservation of sites associated with African American history. Most notably, his close friendship with Myrlie Evers led to her decision to donate the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Collection to MDAH in 2002.”

According to the official obituary, memorial contributions can be made to the Foundation for Mississippi History. Gov. Winter was the leading force behind the opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. His goal was for every Mississippi student to visit these museums at least once. Over the last years of his life, Winter helped raise funds to endow field trips to both museums for schools with limited resources. With his help the Foundation for Mississippi History has raised half of the $4 million endowment to make this possible. Contributions in Winter’s memory can be made to the William Winter Education Fund, FMH, P.O. Box 571, Jackson, MS 39205.

A memorial service will be held once the dangers from COVID-19 abate and it is safe to gather for a service. Condolences to the Winter family may be mailed to P.O. Box 427, Jackson, MS 39205.

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Holiday Hours at MDAH Sites

Holiday HoursMuseum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum

The Possum Ridge model train exhibit will be on display at the Two Mississippi Museums through December. Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays from noon–4 p.m. Safety precautions at museums include requiring all visitors to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. The museums will close ThursdayFriday, December 2425, for Christmas and Friday, January 1, for New Year's Day.

Eudora Welty House & Garden

Eudora Welty House & Garden tours take place 9 & 11 a.m. and 1 & 3 p.m., Tuesday–Friday, and 1 & 3 p.m. on Saturday. Purchase tickets by phone at 601-353-7762 or by email info@eudoraweltyhouse.com. The museum will close ThursdayFridayDecember 2425, for Christmas and Friday, January 1, for New Year's Day.

William F. Winter Archives and History Building

The state archives will close November 26–28, December 24–December 26, and December 31–January 1. Due to safety precautions for COVID-19, the reading rooms at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building will be open Monday–Saturday, 8:15 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Appointments are recommended. and available times are 8:15–10:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Call 601-576-6837 to schedule your time. Patrons without an appointment will be accommodated as space allows.

For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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Artifact Washing Day

Join us at the Two Mississippi Museums on Sunday, November 15, for a day of interactive, hands-on archaeological fun! Work with MDAH Archaeology Collections staff as they clean artifacts excavated in Mississippi. See demonstrations including Atlatl throwing, flint knapping, deer hide shaving, and stickball. Explore Mississippi's earliest stories in a flash tour of archaeological exhibits in the Museum of Mississippi History. Take home a pre-packaged activity bag and create your own handmade pottery and beaded jewelry. This event is free and open to all ages.

The Two Mississippi Museums Celebrate Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, Offer Free Admission

Civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917. In honor of Hamer’s birthday, admission to the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum will be free on Tuesday, October 6. Museum staff will highlight Hamer’s life and legacy through guided tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“We honor Fannie Lou Hamer’s legacy daily at the Two Mississippi Museums,” said Pamela D.C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “We are offering free admission to the museums so people can learn more about this humble woman who gave of herself to uplift and strengthen her people.”

Born in 1917 in Montgomery County, Hamer worked for most of her life as a sharecropper. In 1962, she joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and encouraged African Americans to register to vote. Hamer was a founding member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which challenged the seating of the regular party’s all-white delegation.

Hamer’s powerful testimony to the credentials committee during the 1964 Democratic National Convention is featured in the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The MFDP challenge forced the Democratic Party to eventually embrace diversity and forever changed American politics.

Visitors are required to wear masks and observe social distancing guidelines. Masks are available on-site. All public spaces are sanitized and thoroughly cleaned throughout the day. Hand sanitizing stations are provided and staff are on-site to ensure that social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Regular museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The museums are open free of charge on Sundays, noon–4 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to purchase their tickets online at tickets.mdah.ms.gov.

The museums are located at 222 North Street in Jackson. For more information email info@mdah.ms.gov.

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