On Saturday, December 9th the Hattiesburg Convention Commission unveiled the final installations to its Generations Strong: Inspiring African Americans of Hattiesburg Commemorative Wall, located at the Historic Eureka School in Hattiesburg’s Sixth Street Museum District. Hattiesburg Convention Commission staff and Board Members along with Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker, members of the Commemorative Wall Advisory Committee and Honorees helped unveil the final two completed panels.
The two panels feature nine additional individuals who have been added to the already existing Generations Strong Wall. They are Lillie Burney, Alfonso and Marjorie Clark, Helen Jean Ford Ansari, Oliver William Johnson, II, Clarence and Carrie Magee and Mattie Robertson.
“There are incredible people featured on our wall and the new additions are no exception, said Latoya Norman, Director of Museums for the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “These nine stories are an important part of Hattiesburg’s history and we are proud to share them on our commemorative wall.”
On February 23rd, 2023 the Hattiesburg Convention Commission unveiled the 375-foot wall to the public, which now highlights more than 170 African American individuals or families from Hattiesburg who have inspired or continue to inspire others through their work and service.
In 2019 it was determined that fencing was needed to define the North border of Eureka’s property, and the Hattiesburg Convention Commission wanted to make the space a statement piece for the Sixth Street Museum District. Discussions began with community members and stakeholders about the feasibility of creating a commemorative wall, which was met with overwhelming enthusiasm.
Ten individuals served in an advisory capacity and devoted extensive amounts of time and energy to the project attending meetings, collecting photographs and doing research in advance of selecting the individuals that appear on the Generations Strong Wall. Members of the Commemorative Wall Advisory Committee are Henry Bethley, Charles J. Brown, Bettie Dahmer, Dr. Anthony Harris, Dr. Eddie Holloway, Stephanie Hoze, Dr. Sherita Johnson, Annie Jones, Stella Mackabee and Melvin Williams. Colonels Fred and Sheila Varnado of Leaders and Shakers, served as the committee facilitators during meetings.
“The Commemorative Wall Advisory Committee members took on the tough task of narrowing down these final additions from a field of outstanding recommendations,” said Taylor. “We are thankful for their commitment and dedication to seeing this project to completion.”
“Being a part of this committee was perhaps the most insignificant part of the finished product, ‘The Generations Strong Wall’, however it was a pleasure to serve with other members of our community to help develop such a proposition”, said Stella Mackabee, Commemorative Wall Advisory Committee. “The project stirred memories of people and events that have not been thought of for many years, as well as some notions that are current in our heritage; some good, some bad, some thought-provoking and some even painful, but working through them with other contemporaries of our community was an experience that I shall forever cherish.” “It is my (our) hope that this Wall mirror the hard work of the committee as well as the benefactions of those selected to appear on the wall,” continued Mackabee.
There are 75 panels that make up the Generations Strong wall, and each panel has a direct link through a QR code which connects visitors to a biography for each image on the corresponding panel. The information can also be directly accessed through the Historic Eureka School’s website, Historic Eureka School | Est. 1921 (hattiesburgeureka.com).
“While today’s unveiling completes the Wall, the quality of all of the candidates leads us to work on other ways in the Museum District to recognize the many other nominees,” said Taylor.
The artist for this project was Ana Louro, and the design work was created by Karitina Zendejas, Graphic Designer with the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. Historic Eureka School is located at 410 E. Sixth Street. There is no charge to visit the Generations Strong Commemorative Wall, and because each wall panel is backlit, the wall can be viewed at night as well as during the day. Guests are welcomed to visit the wall anytime between daylight and 10:00 p.m.
# # #