NATCHEZ, Miss. — Workers in Mississippi have started installing the foundation for a monument honoring civil rights activists who were arrested in 1965 and taken to a notorious prison where they were held several days without being put on trial.
The monument, called “Proud to Take a Stand,” is being built near a spot in downtown Natchez where the mostly young black protesters were held before being taken to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, The Natchez Democrat reported.
Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell says his father, Jonathan Grennell, was among the protesters arrested while marching for civil rights. They did not have a permit, as was then required by a city ordinance. The rule was later ruled unconstitutional.
The mayor said he’d like to have the monument finished by Oct. 2, the anniversary of the march.
“I’m just happy to see it’s beginning to come together,” he said.
Landscaping and lighting will be installed before a granite monument engraved with the names of those imprisoned in the Parchman Ordeal, as it has come to be called, is placed on the site.
The state of Mississippi and the city of Natchez each gave $38,300 toward the monument. Grennell raised more than $14,000, including $1,000 of his own money.
“Different people in the community just stepped up to the plate, and different churches made donations, too,” the mayor said. “I’m just so thankful. With that money to go with the money from the state and the city, we have been able to go forward with this and move this project forward.”
Grennell said several Natchez residents are survivors of the Parchman Ordeal and many of them have expressed interest in seeing the project come to fruition.
He said one survivor, 93-year-old Willie Mae Robinson, approached him at the “I Have a Dream Lunch-in” last year at the Natchez Convention Center.
“She said, ‘Darryl, I want to see this monument before I leave here,’” Grennell said. “I have to get the ball rolling on this so that Miss Willie Mae Robinson (and others) can see this monument.”