Cotton center work goes on
by Rory Doyle
May 01, 2013 | 1707 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A group of local activists is continuing its pursuit to recognize those who maintained America's number one industry for over 200 years — cotton.

Plans to establish the Cotton Pickers of America Monument and Sharecroppers Interpretive Center in Mound Bayou continue to develop.

Indianola-based nonprofit Khafre, Inc., the leading organization behind the concept, is excited about the progress.

"We're working with national media and developing our education campaign right now," said Khafre Executive Director Sade Turnipseed. "We're trying to create a heightened awareness about the worldwide significance of cotton.

"This project is a way to recognize the people who prospered from the early cotton industry and to honor the people who planted, chopped and picked cotton."

The plan is to erect a monument approximately 30 feet tall that will be seated on 20 acres of prime cotton land off of U.S. Highway 61 in Mound Bayou.

Groundbreaking for the site is projected for 2015.

The center will also include detailed signage and a walking tour through the history of cotton.

The crop, of course, has strong ties with Delta history and the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors has been very supportive of the effort to preserve the region's past.

Turnipseed said recent plans have been made to visit at least two cities in all 50 states over the next year to continue project outreach.

Schools, organizations and businesses will be targeted.

"We're hoping to connect with the right folks who understand this really needs to happen," she said.

Turnipseed added that education would continue at a dedicated grassroots level.

The movement's next major symposium and fundraising opportunity is scheduled for Oct. 17-18 at Mississippi Valley State University.

Titled Sweat Equity Investment in the Cotton Kingdom, the event will kick off with discussion about historic preservation, leading-edge research, innovative practices and educational opportunities.

The affair concludes on the second day with the Cotton-Pickers’ Ball, a black tie event with tickets going for $25.

Those interested in supporting the cause can also contribute to the ongoing Legacy Bricks campaign by donating $100. Donors will have a brick with their name inscribed in it and placed on the walkway throughout the premises.

"We're not looking for government money," added Turnipseed. "We want the people to connect to it and build it literally brick by brick.

"We want people to give back as a way of thanking their ancestors for working hard all of their lives."

Involving the public will require assistance from the younger generation, contends Turnipseed.

"We're not only seeking donations but also artifacts and narratives," she said. "We need the help of young people to record the stories of their grandparents or great-grandparents."

Documenting the oral history will be another focal point.

Turnipseed also noted Dr. Eulah Peterson's recent commitment as the project's new chairperson.

The mission of Khafre is to offer educational workshops, seminars and conferences that celebrate Mississippi Delta heritage and its contributions to world culture.

The name stems from the Pyramid of Khafre, the second largest of the ancient Egyptian pyramids of Giza.

For more information or to make donations, contact Turnipseed at sade@khafreinc.org or 662.347.8198. Visit the website at www.khafreinc.org.