Mt Zion Memorial Fund For Blues Music And Justice
MZMF prevents the erasure of African American communities through the responsible practice of public history and heritage tourism.
MZMF serves as a conduit to provide financial and technical support to African American church communities and cemeteries in Mississippi. In addition to providing memorials for Blues musicians without grave markers, we provide historical consulting, research, education, and referrals to descendant communities to prevent the erasure of cultural resources in African American communities. By installing over 25 memorials since 1989, MZMF transforms abandoned cultural resources into international tourist destinations.
In 2021, we re-incorporated MZMF as "The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund for Blues, Music, and Justice," and we won over $100,000 in grant awards from Visit Mississippi, the Hills National Heritage Area, the American Historical Association, the MS Delta National Heritage Area, and the MS Arts Council. In the past year, we have installed memorials for Nathan Beauregard, Jim Jackson, and the St. James Missionary Baptist Church, and we have sponsored the RL Boyce Picnic in Como, MS since 2021.
In 2022, MZMF established the Blues Communities Project, working with church and community leaders in 4 counties to add the names and locations of over 660 cemeteries to our WebAtlas of African American Burial Grounds. Services and activities on the pilot project included informational workshops, invited talks, active discussions, archival research, and the launch of a new Wordpress website, featuring ArcGIS-powered surveys and mapping, digital exhibitions, and an online support portal.
Funding is requested to support MZMF’s general operations. MZMF plans to expand the Blues Communities Project into Leflore, DeSoto, and Noxubee Counties, expanding its coverage to a total of 7 counties. Funding will support the development of informational workshops, conceptualized and designed by people of color to increase local participation, including public lectures on gentrification and the erasure of African American history. The participatory addition of burial grounds to the WebAtlas will allow MZMF to continue its growth, extend its reach into descendant communities, and expand its outreach opportunities.