Natchez Historic Society 2023 dinner attracts file crowd, regardless of stormy climate
Printed 2:00 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2023
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By ROSCOE BARNES
Particular to The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ — The Natchez Historic Society noticed a file attendance at its 2023 annual dinner held Tuesday night time on the Natchez Grand Lodge. Greater than 100 folks turned out, courageous storms, sturdy winds and exhausting rain.
“What a crowd!” mentioned NHS President Maria Bowser initially of the occasion. “The response to tonight was overwhelming and we thanks all for coming. You will not be dissatisfied.”
About 80 folks attended the 2022 dinner. Nonetheless, this yr’s dinner noticed a complete of 129 reservations. Some folks canceled due to the climate, in response to program organizers. The occasion lasted from 6 to eight:30, with many staying previous 9 pm to have their books signed by the visitor speaker, Danny Heitman.
Throughout the enterprise a part of the assembly, NHS Treasurer Charlie Hill shared the annual report. He mentioned the corporate ended 2022 with $251,099—and no debt.
Because the out-going president, Bowser handed the gavel to Karen Hill, who will function the brand new president. Bowser introduced a slate of recent officers that included Adam Gwin as the brand new vice chairman; Alan King as the brand new treasurer; and Roscoe Barnes III as the brand new publicity chairman.
The society acknowledged Stanley Nelson, famous writer and former newspaper editor, because the winner of the 2023 Historic Preservation Award. Bowser introduced him with a plaque that bore the phrases: “Natchez Historic Society Proudly Presents THE PRESERVATION AWARD to Stanley Nelson For Vital Contributions to Historic Preservation, January 24, 2022.”
Whereas introducing Nelson, Bowser famous he has “for years made important contributions to educating us about many items of the historical past of the Miss-Lou, from duels, to battles, to tales of intrigue and to the motion of our rivers and bayous.” Most significantly, she added, Nelson has been instrumental in “unraveling most of the truths of the civil rights motion.”
Bowser mentioned Nelson, who was the longtime editor of the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La., continues to battle for racial justice.
In an emotional acceptance speech, Nelson supplied gratitude for the award.
“Thanks a lot for this award,” he mentioned. “I’m honored and proud to obtain it. Like all of you right here tonight, I like studying about our previous – the unhealthy components and the nice components – and looking for out the tales that had been way back forgotten and nearly buried eternally.”
Nelson is the writer of “Devils Strolling: Klan Murders Alongside the Mississippi River within the Nineteen Sixties” (2016, LSU Press) and “Klan of Devils: The Homicide of a Black Louisiana Deputy Sheriff” (2021, LSU Press). He mentioned that when he wrote his first story on the arson homicide of Frank Morris 15 years in the past, he had no thought of the journey he was about to start.
“I didn’t know that over time I’d write greater than 200 tales on this area’s civil rights-era historical past and on the horrific acts of the Klan that resulted in murders, beatings, arsons, intimidation and a number of different types of violence,” Nelson mentioned.
Nelson expressed appreciation for the help of Concordia Sentinel and its house owners who “stood behind this long-term quest for reality and for justice.”
Nelson ended his speech with a listing of names that he mentioned ought to by no means be forgotten: Clifton Walker, Woodville; Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Moore, Franklin County; Joseph Edwards, Concordia Parish; Frank Morris, Ferriday; Johnny Queen, Fayette; Earl Hodges, Franklin County’ George Metcalfe, Natchez; Ben Chester White, Adams County; Wharlest Jackson, Natchez.
Following the award presentation, the viewers heard the visitor lecture by Heitman, a nationally acknowledged author on John James Audubon. Heitman is the writer of “A Summer season of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley Home” (LSU Press, 2008).
Heitman spoke on the subject, “John James Audubon in Natchez: How a Fabled River City Formed His Life and Artwork.” Utilizing humor, colourful anecdotes, and thought-provoking tales, Heitman described intimately how Natchez performed a major function in Audubon’s work by him.
Audubon is extremely regarded for his creative work on the birds of North America. Heitman famous that the artist was so dedicated to his work, that he sacrificed time away from his household. When Audubon sought to do a complete research of birds, he eagerly sailed down the Mississippi River, which in Audubon’s time was “the nice American superhighway,” Heitman mentioned.
He defined that happening the Mississippi River was an efficient technique to cowl a number of floor and see the birds. Whereas discussing Audubon’s artwork, Heitman mentioned he was “so particular,” partially, as a result of his work by him is so pervasive. Another excuse is due to the motion proven in his work by him. For him, nature was not a only a noun, however a verb, he mentioned.
Heitman described Audubon as the daddy of nature documentaries. He additionally famous Audubon’s work by him was supported by the slave economic system. Heitman mentioned it’s sobering to see how Audubon constructed an inventive thought of freedom and but he owned slaves.
Like many in his day, he apparently considered slavery because the pure order of issues, Heitman mentioned.
Talking after this system, Karen Hill commented on her new function as president and the file attendance.
“It’s an honor to function the subsequent NHS president,” she mentioned. “We stay up for bringing extra fascinating and thrilling applications to Natchez this coming yr. I wish to thank Danny Heitman for an unbelievable program on John James Audubon and all those that attended regardless of the climate. We have been so pleased to honor Stanley Nelson for his contributions to him.”
Alan Wolf, an NHS director, shared these sentiments: “Danny Heitman’s revelations of Audubon and his sojourns in Natchez have been eye-opening. And, in accepting the Society’s recognition, Stanley Nelson helped us keep in mind lots of those that risked or misplaced their lives right here for civil rights. It was heartening to see so most of the group warmly sharing this particular night collectively.”
2023 targets of the Natchez Historic Society
Because the Society faces 2023, it should pursue plenty of vital targets, in response to Charlie Hill. He mentioned the Society will:
• Acquire historic materials about Natchez and Adams County, Mississippi.
• Cooperate with officers in making certain the preservation and accessibility of native information.
• Disseminate historic info by way of publications and different means.
• Protect historic buildings, monuments, and markers.
• Conduct conferences with lectures, papers, and discussions.
• Take part in related discipline journeys and excursions.