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April 23, 2024

Proposed Plans for Expansion

Founders of the Mound Bayou facility hope to create children’s museum 

By Mark H. Stowers, The Bolivar Bullet

Housed in the former music building on the high school campus in Mound Bayou is the Mound Bayou Museum of African American Culture and History. The museum was a dream of the Johnson family for over a decade before it came to fruition when the doors opened on July 10, 2021. 

“Working to encompass the rich history of Mound Bayou that dates back to its founding in 1887, the museum is 4,800 square feet but its history could fill a space ten times that,” said co-founder Hermon Johnson Jr.

Hermon and his brother Darryl Johnson wanted to preserve the history they loved and a part of for the rest of the world to learn about and enjoy. The museum currently has exhibits, the main one being the Alvin Simpson Collection, the Mound Bayou Collection and the Emmett Till Movie Costume Collection with pieces from the movie set from MGM Studios. The museum’s importance in preserving Delta history stretches far beyond Mississippi.

“Preserving the legacy of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, through the Mound Bayou Museum is not just about safeguarding history. It’s about honoring the resilience of a community, fostering understanding and ensuring that the stories of our past continue to inspire and enlighten generations to come,” said Keith Beauchamp, writer and producer of the Till movie in press release.  

Mound Bayou has 27 historical markers telling stories of the Delta and Mound Bayou events and historical figures. Johnson notes that many schools and organizations tour the museum annually and he’s looking into creating a hotel along with a Children’s Museum with help from the largest children’s museum, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indiana.) Those plans are in the beginning stages and the Johnsons are looking for help to get them to fruition as well.

The Mound Bayou Museum is a window into Mound Bayou’s rich history of the first all-black towns in America. Attendees learn about the self-determination of residents and their empowerment in building their own schools, businesses and other institutions as they defied the constraints of a segregated society to not only survive but thrive.