Alliance forms for targeted tourism
by Paisley Boston
Jun 11, 2014 | 1413 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tourism has become a viable source of revenue in many parts of the United States and the Mississippi Delta is no different.

According to Mayor Darryl Johnson, Mound Bayou is a mecca for tourism and he, along with the Historic Black Town and Settlements Alliance, conducted a meeting recently to discuss the importance of tourism in incorporated historical African American municipalities.

"This event is very important. We have formed an alliance," said Johnson.

"It is important that we highlight the significance of tourism in the Mississippi Delta. Mound Bayou is one of the key places for tourism and often our resources are left untapped. We are one of the most important cities in Mississippi as far as African American history," continued Johnson.

He also said during the conference, the alliance explored various means of helping Mound Bayou to become an African American tourist destination, not just for Mississippians but also for everyone in the United States.

The purpose of the Alliance is to allow five towns to jointly begin to benefit from their common heritage and seek funding and programs which will benefit its citizens.

The five towns are Tuskegee, Ala.; Grambling, La.; Hobson City, Ala.; Eatonville, Fla., and Mound Bayou,

According to Johnny Ford, mayor of Tuskegee, Ala., all of the towns in the alliance share a unique heritage and common ancestry.

“Booker T. Washington had an impact on these five municipalities. He either influenced them or helped to incorporate them. We call all five of these towns ‘Booker T’s towns,”’ said Ford.

Mayors of the five African American towns formed the Alliance to protect and preserve future generations.

According N.Y. Nathiri, to secretary for the Alliance and director of Multidisciplinary Programs in Eatonville, Fla., the Alliance is historically significant because the towns were formed during the post reconstruction era.

"It is so important that this kind of Alliance has been developed because it is ultimately about economic development. It is about looking at how we may leverage our cultural and heritage assets because people are traveling from all over the country and all over the world," she added.

According to Nathiri, the five African American towns all have a connection with Booker T. Washington.

Washington led the effort to develop Tuskegee Institute, the community around what is now Tuskegee University, as an historic black town and settlement, but he also played a major role in encouraging the organization and development of these four other historic towns: Eatonville, which was founded in 1887; Mound Bayou, founded in 1887; Hobson City, founded in 1899; and Grambling, founded in the late 1890s and the home of Grambling University. 

"Our visit to Mound Bayou represents the second destination in our journey. We want to help these municipalities by providing them with information of how to use their natural assets to obtain revenue," continued Nathiri.

Ford said the alliance is striving to work together to promote tourism and development.

“We formed this alliance about six months ago. We have been collectively seeking grants and other resources in order to make our towns more viable. We want bring jobs and other resources to our communities. We also try to promote each other. Whenever there is an event in Mound Bayou, we promote it and the whole world knows about it – we do this for all of the communities,” he added.