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ON SITE

BRICK BY BRICK

View of “Black Empowerment,” 2017–, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jackson. Photo: Tom Beck.

“I WANT EVERYONE in Congress to visit here,” John Lewis told the audience gathered on a mild Saturday in February to celebrate the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—the new institution in Jackson that tells, in considerable detail, the history of racial oppression and resistance in this state, a bedrock of the freedom struggle.

Two months earlier, the museum’s official inauguration had come under a pall when Donald Trump decided to show up, having been invited by Mississippi’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant. Lewis, the beloved civil rights hero and congressman from Georgia, had refused to attend in protest, as did other invitees, including Representative Bennie Thompson. But now they were here, communing with a lively crowd that included elders, church groups, high school students, and a Junior ROTC company, in what many felt to be, in spirit, the museum’s real opening.

The

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