NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) _ The former Forks of the Road slave market in Natchez could get preservation status.
The city Board of Alderman is scheduled to vote this week on an application to designate the area near St. Catherine Street and Liberty Road meet as a landmark.
The Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/1lIy8YF) the city’s Preservation Commission recommended on May 14 that the site be put under the commission’s jurisdiction.
If accepted, Forks of the Road will receive the same treatment as other historical sites in Natchez, and any construction within 300 feet will be reviewed by the commission.
City planner Frankie Legaux said she expects the board of aldermen to preserve the site.
Friends of the Forks of the Road coordinator Ser Seshsh ab Heter-CM Boxley, said he has been working for nearly 20 years to preserve the site with the advocate group.
“It’s been extremely slow,” Boxley said.
He hopes to tell the story of the site in a way that demonstrates what the African slaves contributed to the country.
“It explains the history of our people being separated from their family on the eastern seaboard,” Boxley said. “It explains that other people other than Europeans contributed to the existence of Natchez.”
Currently, a few plaques describing the slave market’s operations stand at Y-shaped intersection, considered the second-largest slave market in the country behind New Orleans during the antebellum period. Getting grants and funding become easier after a property has been marked as a historic landmark, Legaux said. The money can be used to add interpretive buildings, such as a museum.
Boxley and others hope it the site will eventually become a part of the Natchez National Historical Park. Congress must pass legislation allowing transfer of property from the city and a consulting company that purchased a portion of the site to the National Park Service.
National Historic Park Superintendent Kathleen Jenkins said she supports having Forks of the Road actively focus on telling the African story in America, and that diversity is important to interpreting the history of Natchez.
“That story of slavery is the story that antebellum Natchez was built on,” Jenkins said.