Located alongside the Mississippi Museum of History, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson is a must-see museum for all Americans. The state was ground zero for some of the most significant events, both tragic and triumphant. The exhibits focus on the period from 1945 to 1970.
Opened in 2017, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum was designed by African-American architect Philip Freelon, who also designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. The museum shares a campus with the state history museum.
The civil rights museum has eight galleries and starts at the beginning with the Middle Passage and the slave trade through the Civil War. The state was responsible for cotton plantations with thousands of slaves. The second gallery covers the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, specifically in relation to Ku Klux Klan activity. One of the haunting items on display is a real KKK robe.
Tree limbs fill the narrow spaces of the gallery and hundreds of names are etched, honoring the victims of lynching. Later exhibits cover the segregation of schools and other spaces as well as the lynching of young Emmett Till, which made national headlines.
In the atrium, a colorful sculpture continually plays “This Little Light of Mine,” sung by the Freedom Singers. It pays tribute to the many leaders who lost their lives during the struggle. Give yourself at least three hours to read the panels, watch the films, and take it all in.
If You Go
The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum is located at 222 North Street #2205, Jackson, Mississippi 39201. The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and on Sunday from 1 to 5 pm. Admission is $10 for adults and they have discounts for children, students, seniors, and the military.
If you have time, the Museum of Mississippi History covers other elements of the state’s past including Native American tribes and the Civil War. The Medgar Evers home is another place to see nearby, along with the campus of Tougaloo College, a historically black college that had students involved in the movement.