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Grant would fund African-American Heritage Trail

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Feb. 2, 2001
Lauderdale County's African-American historical sites may be featured on a new African-American Heritage Trail next year, if a grant application is approved.
The Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau is applying for a grant for the trail's development.
Beasley advised supervisors of the project at a work session Thursday and got their unanimous approval to seek the grant at a special meeting afterward.
Funded by the African-American Heritage Preservation Grant Program under the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the grant may require matching funds. Beasley said the money would not come from Lauderdale County's budget. She plans to apply for matching funds through the Riley Foundation because the trail is educational as well as historical. The total would be about $48,000.
Supervisors' endorsement means they would agree to supply county employees to maintain the markers which Beasley said will be easy with "a little comet and some towels" once or twice a year.
State Archives and History officials will determine where they purchase the markers, and that company's personnel will install them. Beasley said 15 to 20 markers will be purchased initially. She said tourism officials are putting together a selection and review committee to determine which future applicants' sites will be added to the trail. The sites do not have to be state landmarks, she said.
Beasley said the grant will complement efforts of Main Street Meridian in the Master Redevelopment Plan of the African-American Historic District and the Wechsler Renovation Project.
Students in the Explore programs at Carver Middle School and Parkview Elementary School are currently designing trail guides and maps. All the information will also be available on the Web site maintained by the Tourism Bureau at www.visitmeridian.com.
Beasley said she will apply to the Riley Foundation by Feb. 15 and expects to learn the outcome in April. She will know by the end of March whether Lauderdale County gets the grant from the Department of Archives and History. If they get the money, the markers could be erected and the trail complete by early 2002.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.
Tour sites:
The following 11 sites on a new African-American Heritage Trail would be designated in
Meridian if the grant is approved:
Con Sheehan Block, 501 25th Ave.
E.F. Young Jr. Hotel, 500 25th Ave.
E.F. Young Manufacturing Company, 425 26th Ave.
Fielder and Brooks Drug Store the Skully Building, 2505 Fifth St.
First Union Baptist Church, 610 38th Ave.
Grand Opera House, 2208 Fifth St.
James Chaney Memorial Gravesite, Valley Road
Meridian Baptist Seminary, 16th Street and 30th Ave.
St. John Baptist Church, 2000 18th Ave.
The Carnegie Library, 2721 13th St.
Wechsler School, 1415 30th Ave.