The original campus of the historic Mississippi Industrial College that closed in 1982, located in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

HOLLY SPRINGS, MS – Rust College has announced the receipt of a large grant that will aid in the restoration of Mississippi Industrial College (MIC), an HBCU which closed in 1980s. The National Park Service recently awarded $16.2M in grants to help preserve African American civil rights history. Of the $16.2 million, Rust College has been awarded $500,000 for the restoration of the historic Carnegie Hall which sits on the campus of MIC. MIC, which is located adjacent to the campus of Rust College, closed in the 1980s and the building have since stood unoccupied and deteriorating. In 1979, a short time before the doors to MIC closed, four of the buildings – including Carnegie Hall, – were entered in the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008, Rust College assumed control of the buildings in an attempt to save them from further deterioration. Since President Taylor’s arrival in 2020, it has been her vision to restore the MIC campus back to life and make it part of the Rust College campus community.

Carnegie Hall has major architectural and social significance in the state of Mississippi. Originally funded by a donation from Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Hall was built in 1923 and contained the largest auditorium and performance venue in Mississippi that was open to blacks and it was known as the Carnegie Auditorium. Even in its current condition, Carnegie Auditorium remains one of the best examples of Colonial Revival architecture in Holly Springs, Mississippi. An earlier stabilization project at Carnegie Hall was funded in part by a Mississippi Department of Archives and Heritage Community Heritage Grant.

Ivy R. Taylor, Rust College President

“The intertwined histories of Rust College and MIC are worthy of preservation. These recent awards, including $155,000 for a campus masterplan focused on preserving Rust College’s historic assets are welcome investments in the past and the future of these HBCUs. Our students and the entire Holly Springs community will benefit from a restored Carnegie Auditorium to showcase the area’s artistic and cultural heritage,” said President Ivy R. Taylor.

Earlier this spring, Rust College received its first congressional special project appropriation recommended by Senator Roger Wicker. This $1 million allocation was awarded to facilitate creation of the Ida B. Wells Social Justice and Interpretive Center on the MIC campus in the Booker T. Washington Hall building, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places. These efforts are both apart of President Taylor’s larger vision to restore the MIC campus which will be a $35+ million-dollar renovation with the potential to offer new and innovative academic programming to Rust College students, and to serve as a place to restore the arts and meet the needs of the Holly Springs community and surrounding area.

“The African American Civil Rights grants are critical to helping preserve and interpret a more comprehensive narrative of the people, places, and events associated with African American Civil Rights movement,” said NPS Director Chunk Sams. This years’ National Park Service grant awards will benefit 44 projects in 15 states and support the continued preservation of sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality.

President Taylor and the Rust College Board of Trustees will continue to engage stakeholders in the efforts of revitalize MIC and integrate it into the Rust College campus community. Preservation of MIC campus will provide space for students and community organizations and this $500,000 award is a critical step toward realizing this plan. Rust College is continuing to build momentum around preserving the MIC campus and is planning and outdoor celebration on the campus later this summer. This event will be open to community stakeholder, investors and historians to celebrate the momentum happening with restoring one of our historic HBCUs.

“This project is support through an African American Civil Rights grant, provided by the Historic Preservation Fund, as administrated by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.”

About Rust College
Rust College is the oldest most prestigious historically black college in Mississippi founded in 1866 by the Freedmen’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Offering degree programs in business, education, humanities, science and mathematics, and social science, Rust College equips and inspires students for excellence and service in their communities and throughout the world. Located in Holly Springs, MS, just 35 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee, Rust College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.

For more information about Rust College, call (662) 252-8000, ext. 4915 or visit www.rustcollege.edu.

About Mississippi Industrial College
Mississippi Industrial College was founded in 1905 by the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Elias Cottrell wanted to found a college for Negro youth which would inculcate Christian ideals, provide a practical education, and make better citizens. The first classes were held that fall. For the next 77 years the school fulfilled that mission, expanding to teacher education, the ministry, and the liberal arts. The 1960 MIC Key, shows that the overwhelming number of graduates majored in elementary education; physical education and mathematics also had high graduation numbers. In addition, MIC offered programs in auto mechanics, home economics and commercial subjects. As with many historically black colleges, MIC lost students when they were allowed to attend formerly all-white schools. Changing expectations of a new generation of black students led to greater enrollment losses at MIC. After federal funding was cut in 1981, MIC was forced to close in 1982.

About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.

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BIRMINGHAM, AL – The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail will reopen the Montgomery Interpretive Center (MIC) located on the campus of Alabama State University starting on Friday, May 28, with a reduced number of visitors being allowed inside it at one time. Its new hours of operation, as announced by the National Park Service (NPS) that oversees its day-to-day operation, will be each on Fridays and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The center will open in accordance with the University’s protocols regarding health and safety.

“While we are excited about the opportunity for visitors to be able to benefit from the historical displays and information housed in the Interpretive Center, we are committed to maintaining a healthy campus,” said Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., ASU President. “I want to emphasize that ASU is still a mask-mandatory campus and all visitors, employees and students are required to wear masks in public spaces. Visitors should also follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing while inside the Center and on our campus at ASU.”

ABOUT THE NPS MONTGOMERY INTERPRETIVE CENTER LOCATED AT ASU

The $5 million NPS Interpretive Center for Montgomery, located on ASU’s campus, honors the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and the heroes, martyrs and foot-soldiers who made voting rights history happen. Center exhibits tell the story for the voting rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis and F.D. Reese with a focus on the roles of the residents of the city of Montgomery and ASU when the march reached Alabama’s capital city on March 25, 1965. It is the third and final center on the National Historic Trail, established by Congress in 1996, which additionally includes the Selma and Lowndes County Interpretive Centers.

The Montgomery Interpretive Center is located in front of The ASU Stadium, which is a short walk from the one-time home of civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy and from the church parsonage that housed Dr. King and his family.

King and tens of thousands of men and women marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to champion voting rights for Alabama and the nation’s African-American citizens. The March also served to remind the nation of the murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson in Marion, Alabama in Feb. 1965 at the hands of Alabama State Trooper James B. Fowler; whose death served as the catalyst for the March and ultimately the enactment by the U.S. Congress of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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(BEAUFORT, S.C.) – The National Park Service announces the first eight community sites to be included in the newly established Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. The national network launched in March 2020, will connect sites across the country who provide education, interpretation and research for the period of Reconstruction. The Reconstruction Era (1861-1900) is one of the most fascinating and misunderstood periods in American History and includes stories of freedom education and self-determination.

The new community sites added to the network include several Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) created during Reconstruction, a site manged by the South Carolina State Park system which interprets the stories of freedom and tenant farming, and a school which was created shortly after the Civil Ward to provide education to the formerly enslaved. Specifically, they are Allen University, Benedict College, Claflin University, Clinton College, Mather School, Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site, South Carolina State University and Voorhees College.

Allen University
Benedict College
Claflin University
Clinton College
South Carolina State University
Voorhees College

Mather School and Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site.

“The Reconstruction story is a national story,” said Scott Teodorski, Superintendent. “It includes sites from all over the country. Some of the sites are manged by the National Park Service and many are not. The Reconstruction Era National Historic Network provides an opportunity to connect these sites and to connect visitors to their stories as part of the Reconstruction Era. We are very excited to welcome these new sites to the network and look forward to working with them.”

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed into law on March 12, 2019, outlined the creation of the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. This network manged by Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, includes sites and programs that are affiliated with the Reconstruction Era, but not necessarily managed by the National Park Service. This network is nationwide and works to provide opportunities for visitors to connect to the stores of Reconstruction. For more information about the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, visit: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/reconstruction/network.htm.

For more information about Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, visit www.nps.gov/reer or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ReconstructionNPS.

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Talladega College’s band outside Foster Hall

TALLADEGA, AL – Talladega College has been awarded two African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund grants from the National Park Service (NPS). The College will receive a $500,000 grant for its Foster Hall Interior Preservation, Restoration, and Rehabilitation Development Project, and a $50,000 grant for Talladega College and the Civil Rights Movement: A Watershed in History.

“This is extremely significant news for the College, for the community and for individuals throughout the nation who value the preservation of history,” said Dr. Bill C. Hawkins, President of Talladega College. “We recently transformed the campus by constructing three new buildings simultaneously. Now, thanks to the National Park Service, we will be able to begin renovating one of our most important historic buildings.”

Talladega’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement Seddrick T. Hill, Sr. added, “The $500,000 grant will help us restore Foster Hall, which was the heart and soul of the College for over one hundred years. The $50,000 grant will enable us to conduct research, document history and create educational materials that details Talladega College’s extensive role in the civil rights movement.”

Foster Hall was the first facility built specifically for Talladega College after the institution was established in 1867. Construction began in 1869 and was completed the following year. It was named in honor of Rev. Lemuel Foster,, a staunch abolitionist from Blue Island, Illinois, who donated most of the funds needed to construct the building. Foster Hall served as a residence hall for female students and faculty and included dining facilities for the entire school. it was the site for numerous civil rights planning meetings. The building closed in 1980 after a fire ravaged the interior. It has remained closed for four decades.

“Alumni still talk about their memories of Foster Hall. They reminisce about how beautiful the interior was, about what the building meant to them, and about its role in the civil rights struggle,” said Hill.

Funds from NPS for Talladega College and the Civil Rights Movement: A Watershed in History will aid Talladega in documenting stories about the College’s civil rights activities, including Talladega College’s 1961 march on Anniston, Alabama. The march was organized after Dr. Arthur L. Bacon, a Talladega College senior at the time, was assaulted at the Southern Railway Station in Anniston.

The National Park Service (NPS) is awarding $14 million in African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund grants to fund 51 projects across 20 states and the District of Columbia.

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About Talladega College

The oldest private Historically Black College in Alabama, Talladega College was founded in 1867 by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrent. Talladega College is the home of the renowned Hall Woodruff Amistad Murals, which received rave reviews from the New York Times during a three year, eight-city tour. For more information, visit www.talladega.edu.