Jackson State University’s Margaret Walker Center has received a generous $450,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand its capacity and that of the COFO Civil Rights Education Center. The grant will allow the Margaret Walker Center to hire an oral historian who will oversee a division with more than 2,000 interviews, digitize the center’s research collection, and purchase new equipment for conducting oral histories. The grant will be funded over three years.
“The Margaret Walker Center is deeply indebted to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and I am grateful for Mellon’s confidence in the work that we are doing at the center,” said Dr. Robert Luckett, director of the Margret Walker Center.
The oral historian will also be responsible for developing new collections, including one related to the Gibbs-Green 50th commemoration planned for early 2020, which will celebrate the lives of Phillip Gibbs, 21, and James Green,17.
Gibbs, a junior at JSU, and Green, a senior at the neighboring Jim Hill High School, were killed on the campus of the HBCU when city and state police confronted a group of unarmed students on May 15, 1970.
Luckett also revealed plans to have visiting scholars and experts based in the Margaret Walker Center and the HBCU’s COFO Center, researching various topics related to the civil rights movement, black studies movement, and black arts movement. Proceeds will also fund a graduate assistant for COFO and the Margaret Walker Center.
“This grant is going to enable us to exponentially expand the impact we have on our community and our capacity to fulfill our mission as a museum and archive dedicated to the African American experience,” said Luckett, who is also an associate professor in the Department of History.
He further shared that the grant will continue to forge the university’s partnership with the Association of African American Museums after the center hosted the 41st annual conference this past summer.
“AAAM will provide professional development and support at all levels of this grant,” he said.