Planning begins on civil rights park at site of former Kuhn Hospital

Published 6:48 pm Friday, January 17, 2020

Members of the seven-member committee to develop a proposed civil rights park at the former Kuhn Memorial Hospital site have begun meeting to determine the design and focus of the park’s exhibits, chairman Toni Lowe-Fisher said.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. appointed the committee of Lowe-Fisher, Debra Goodman, Shawn Jackson, Mary Logan, Carol McMillin, Jeff Richardson and former Mayor Robert Walker to develop the design and concept for the park at the former hospital property, which will include a walking trail and serve as an educational resource by highlighting the importance of Kuhn and the civil rights era to the community.

It is expected to include monuments to Kuhn and Dr. Martin Luther King, and markers showing the contributions of area residents, churches and organizations to the civil rights movement.

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“It is an esteemed honor to serve with such a dynamic team. Our diverse skillsets provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the committee,” Fisher said. “Everyone is excited and committed to making this park a reality. We have organized our subcommittees, and we are confident that the citizens and the Board of Mayor and Alderman will be pleased with our plan.”

The group’s first meeting was Dec. 19.

“We did some brainstorming, trying to get our minds wrapped around what the project entails,” she said. “At this point, we’re creating the framework for how we’re going function; looking at the development concept, the markers; the selection criteria for the individuals and other things that will be featured on the markers.”

While individual members have visited the site, Fisher said, the committee has not toured it as a group.

“We’re hoping that now that the holidays are over we can start picking up on things (activity),” she said. “Until now, things have been sort of vague. We’re looking at the selection criteria and the historical perspective.

“We only have a limited space available to work,” Fisher said. “Therefore, it is important to carefully plan the layout, theme, and placement of the markers. There will be an application process for submitting nominations.

“The selection criteria committee will release the application within the next couple of weeks. We look forward to engaging the community in the near future, as we need input on the theme and other key factors.”

Jackson, who represents District 3 on the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said the group has determined the park’s focus will be on the civil rights era.

“Black history includes civil rights, but the civil rights era was strictly for the gaining of rights,” she said. “We’ve also looked over some preliminary plans that might allow us to fit into the budget.”

Because the project has a $200,000 budget, she said, the project will be developed in phases.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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