Preparations are underway for the June 9 unveiling of the Fannie Lou Hamer historical marker in Winona.
During their April 29 meeting, Montgomery County Supervisors agreed to provide iron benches near the marker site, and Edwin Taylor will supply portable restrooms at the request of event organizer Vickie Roberts-Ratliff.
Winona Aldermen agreed with Mayor Aaron Dees during their May 3 meeting, to provide trash barrels, crowd control barriers, traffic cones and utility vehicles for the event.
“We have golf carts to transport the elderly,” said Dees. “We’re still trying to secure utility vehicles for senior citizens who will have trouble walking.”
Winona also will provide police assistance during the commemoration, Dees said.
The unveiling of the marker will be located at the old Montgomery County Jail site at the corner of Oak Drive and Sterling Avenue at 2 p.m. on June 9, according to a statement released by Roberts-Ratliff.
The marker unveiling will be a four-day event, according to Roberts-Ratliff.
“Following the unveiling, a day of community fellowship, voter registration, oral history interviews, food trucks, music, information vendors and children’s activities will occur at the Winona Community House located at 113 Sterling Avenue until 8 p.m.,” the release stated.
The remembrance weekend also will include a Landowner Forestry and Land Retention Summit, historical bus tour and a Winona Community Healing Service on Sunday, June 12 at Winona Baptist Church, according to the release.
Roberts-Ratliff went on to state in another release, “This four-day commemoration will serve as the catalyst to bridging Winona, as multi-generational and ethnic groups come together to atone, discuss and build a stronger and more progressive community.”
Dees said he hopes the unveiling will be the beginning of community healing for Winona.
“This is something that should’ve been done a long time ago. This era of time should have never happened. It’s a day in history that should’ve never happened,” said Dees.
Roberts-Ratliff suggested the Fannie Lou Hamer marker to the Winona Board of Aldermen during a regular meeting on March 15, and board members and the mayor agreed to unveil the marker on June 9 to memorialize the day she and several other activists were arrested and severely beaten in a Winona Jail on June 9, 1963.
At a later meeting, the board of aldermen and mayor signed a proclamation making June 9 Fannie Lou Hamer day.
Hamer, a Montgomery County native, helped to citizens to register to vote, and she worked to desegregate schools, according to PBS org.
In 1963, she and other activists protested a local bus station’s “whites-only” counter, which led to their arrest by local police, according to PBS.
Each of the protesters were brutalized, and Hamer was left with lasting damage to her kidneys, eyes and legs.
Roberts-Ratliff, along with other local residents, hope the marker unveiling will be a catalyst in truly unifying this community.
Dees said, “I want to help with the healing. I want to be a mediator.”