July 24, 2001
The catch-word in marketing these days is "packaging." Locally, the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau hopes a new brochure on black heritage will help draw attention to an important part of the area's history. This is part of a renewed approach to package the area's overall appeal to visitors.
African-American history and civil rights reached epic proportions in Meridian in the troubled 1960s. The trials of individuals charged in connection with the slayings of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia were held in a courtroom of the federal courthouse in Meridian. The unassuming grave site of James Chaney, one of the victims, is in Meridian.
But, perhaps even more important is the fact that African-American businessmen have made tremendous contributions here in efforts that have never been adequately publicized.
Packaging their efforts into an overall tourism marketing strategy that also touts other area attractions should be an effective way to begin to boost tourism's economic value. Meridian has, for example, buildings with some very creative architecture and lovely nearby state parks.
Lauderdale County tourism officials deserve local support as they publicize the contributions of the area's African-Americans and package a collection of appealing area attractions.
Hopefully, they can attract enough interest and attention to make reality of a proposed African-American Heritage Trail. Such a trail could be very beneficial in drawing renewed tourism interest in Meridian.