Ad Spot

Thank you, Ser Boxley, for Forks of the Road

On Monday night, Congress approved funding for land acquisition for Forks of the Road.

Forks of the Road, located in the area of St. Catherine Street at the Liberty Road intersection, was once the site of the second largest slave market in the Deep South.

Thousands of lives were bought and sold there. Human beings. Many of them had suffered through a horrible journey from the east coast to the Natchez Trace and down it to Natchez. Many did not survive. Those who did became someone else’s property.

The funding for this effort is tied to the package of legislation offering COVID-19 relief. President Trump was expected to sign the legislation into law quickly, but his displeasure with the lack of funds for actual relief for COVID in the legislation may stall things for a bit.

Nonetheless, it seems money for the purchase of land needed to develop the area and make it a part of the Natchez National Historic Park is forthcoming.

It is a significant step for all of Natchez who are interested in telling the entire story of our history — something that’s long overdue.

We have Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-CM Boxley to thank for it.

Many deserve credit for making this happen. However, the lion’s share of that credit goes to Boxley, a Natchez native, who lived in San Francisco for 35 years until returning in the spring of 1995. At that time, he planned to store some of his belongings here before moving to Africa to live, Boxley wrote in a Top of the Morning in The Democrat on Nov. 19.

While looking for a site he thought appropriate to hold the city’s first Juneteenth celebration that year, Boxley read about “The Fork of the Road” site in a book called “The Black Experience in Natchez 1720 to 1880.”

“As head of the first Natchez Juneteenth Ancestral Libation Committee, I chose the site where human commodity trafficker John D. James (now owned by the City of Natchez and being donated to the National Park Service) operated his chattel slavery selling market,” Boxley wrote.

Since that time, Boxley has fueled the effort to preserve the site and honor the memories of the human beings who were treated as much less than human and recognize their contributions to Natchez and its history.

Bill Justice, former superintendent of the Natchez National Historic Park who recently retired as superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park, said, “Without Boxley, this never would have happened.”

Justice said others, including former Natchez National Historic Park Superintendents Bob Dodson and Keith Whisenant, deserve recognition, as does current Park Superintendent Kathleen Bond.

But it’s Boxley’s passion that will make this new 18-acre site part of Natchez National Historic Park and will at last tell the story of the African Americans of Natchez.

Ser Boxley, because of your work, surely your ancestors are resting easier today. Natchez thanks you for your dogged determination on behalf of all of us.

Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at 601-445-3627 or by email at jan.griffey@natchezdemocrat.com. Readers are invited to submit their opinions for publication.

News

Belk Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing should not interfere with store operation

News

City moves forward with pool improvements

News

Natchez man killed in apparent home invasion in Moss Point

News

ACCS 8th-grader places first in state essay contest

News

Free breast exams in November yielded surprising results

News

Myers, 68, tries out acting in ABC’s ‘Women of the Movement’ series

News

CPSO investigators arrest man for stealing trailers, heavy equipment from multiple parishes

News

Officials present top priorities for legislative session in forum

News

Pascagoula native 1st female official to work a Super Bowl

News

Analysis: Transition turmoil splits Mississippi delegation

COVID-19

Sunday update: State health department reports new COVID-19 cases, deaths

COVID-19

State health department reports new COVID-19 cases, deaths

News

Merit Health nurse remembered for selfless nature

News

Florida couple start fundraiser to secure, restore historic home here

News

Two men arrested for theft, damage at old International Paper

News

Natchez projects awarded over $350,000 from MDAH grants

News

Sheriff’s office investigating shots fired in Adams County Wednesday night

BREAKING NEWS

Natchez police arrested teen in Wednesday night murder

News

More donate to Children’s Christmas Tree fund

News

Murder investigation of Natchez native now streaming on Discovery+

News

Harbor Freight Tools excited to be joining Natchez community

News

Supervisors approve contract for new engineering firm

COVID-19

State reports new COVID-19 cases, deaths

News

Adams County seeks study for new fire stations