News Release

National Park Service to Host Open House Considering Biloxi Civil Rights Site

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Date: May 2, 2018
Contact: Brent Everitt, 850-934-2600

Ocean Springs, Miss. - National Park Service officials responsible for considering Mississippi Civil Rights sites for park designation. The public is invited to weigh-in at the start of the project through a public open house next Friday, May 10, 2018. The open house will be held at the Biloxi Visitor Center from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Gulf Islands National Seashore officials will assist with the open house in Biloxi and will have comment cards and flyers at the park’s visitor center in Davis Bayou Area.

In 2017, the U.S. Congress passed a law directing NPS to conduct a special resource study of Mississippi’s nationally significant civil rights sites, such as:

  • The Biloxi office of Dr. Gilbert Mason Sr. who was a principal organizer of “wade-ins” beginning in 1959 to desegregate Biloxi’s public beaches. He also helped organize voter registration drives and led other civil rights initiatives for 33 years.

  • The home in Jackson where civil rights activist Medgar Evers resided with his wife and was killed in 1963.

  • Sites in the Mississippi Delta related to the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till on August 28, 1955, including Bryant’s store and Tallahatchie County Courthouse.

  • The Old Neshoba County jail in Philadelphia, Miss., where civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were held for a speeding violation prior to being released and murdered by a mob for registering black voters in 1964. The Reverends Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy Sr. included the jail in a heralded voter registration march two years later.

Other related sites in the state not specifically listed in the legislation may be identified and added to the list of potential study locations.

The purpose of this special resource study is to gather information about the sites through historical research and public input and evaluate the sites’ potential for inclusion into the NPS system. The findings – which are reported to Congress through the U.S. Secretary of the Interior
– will center on the sites’ national significance, suitability, feasibility and need for direct NPS management. Special resource studies can take place over a two-year period, depending on the findings.

Additional Information:
The NPS is providing multiple opportunities for public comment and participation during the initial phase of the special resource study to better assess public interest and support.

NPS will hold six Open House forums across Mississippi from May 7 to 10. The NPS study team will explain the special resource study process at the forums, answer questions and gather important information and ideas from the public concerning the study. All Open House forums are free and open to the public.

Additional Open Houses are scheduled for:

Monday, May 7, 2018, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Delta Center for Culture and Learning / Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area Delta State University

Jacob Conference Center, Ewing Hall Highway 8 West

Cleveland, Mississippi 38733

Monday, May 7, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.

Tallahatchie County Courthouse and Emmett Till Interpretive Center 120 North Court Street

Sumner, Mississippi 38957


Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Two  Mississippi  Museums  Auditorium 222 North Street

Jackson, Mississippi 39201


Tuesday, May 8, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.

Medgar Evers Library 4215 Medgar Evers Blvd

Jackson, Mississippi 39213


Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 5 – 7 p.m.

The Depot

256 West Beacon Street

Philadelphia, Mississippi 39350

Written comments are requested by June 1, 2018 and may be submitted during the Open House forums, online at or through postal mail to:

Mississippi Civil Rights Sites Special Resource Study Attn: Justin Henderson

National Park Service- Denver Service Center 12795 W. Alameda Parkway

Lakewood, CO 80228

For further information, contact NPS project manager Justin Henderson at 303-969-2540 or Ben West at 404-507-5700.

Many historians identify the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the exoneration of his killers as one of the defining moments of the modern civil rights movement in America. This period culminated in Mississippi with the 1964 Freedom Summer project to register African American voters and seat Freedom Party delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

That year was also marked by the murders of Mississippi Freedom Summer volunteers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. During the decade in between, the struggle for civil rights and equality in deeply segregated Mississippi was shaped by people who risked their lives and faced adversity in their quest for freedom.

The Mississippi Civil Rights Sites Special Resource Study explores the most significant people and places representing civil rights history in Mississippi. Information about these sites, the special resource study process, project status updates and more are available at

About Gulf Islands National Seashore: Created in 1971, the national seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitat. Visit us at, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at, on Facebook and Twitter


Last updated: May 2, 2018

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