The Attala Historical Society has completed the first stage of its oral history project and is preparing the second phase, the implementation of the program. The oral history project is part of a statewide program to record Mississippians telling their life stories in their own words and style of speaking. The Attala Historical Society's program is financially assisted by a planning grant of $2,000 and an inplementation grant of $2,000, funded by the Mississippi Legislature through the Mississippi Humanities Council.
During the planning phase, the project participants clarified and defined their goals for this countywide project. The planning committee members were Ann Breedlove, Charles Carter, Nancy Heilbronner, Majorie Lampkin, Kelly Middleton, Ellen Pettit, Ever Lee Presley, John Morris Ward, Sally Wasson, and project director Sue Power. The Humanities Scholar for the project was folklorist Georgia Wier, who grew up in Jackson, MS, and has worked before in the Attala County schools. Her role in the planning phase was crucial to the success of the program by helping to define primary goals, gathering ideas about topics to be covered, recruiting interviewers, and conducting a workshop on conducting interviews.
Dr. Shana Walton, from the University of Southern Mississippi, and Georgia Wier were instrumental in showing the planners how to include as much of the county as possible, how to represent urban and rural communities, and how to include people of all ethnic groups and financial levels, and how to present genealogical information.
Key participants in the meetings and workshop, in addition to the committee members, were Ronnie Ables, Polly McRee Brown, Vanessa Carson, Sarah Cheek, Rossie Clark-Cotton, Annis Guess Dickerson, Bobra Yarbrough Esters, Katharine Carr Esters, Jesse J. Fleming, Mary Van Ford, LaWanya Rochelle George, Charles Felix Hull, Eddie Delores Hull, Charlsie Hammond, Will Hammond, Preston Hughes, Brian Lampkin, Bill Mitchell, Carolyn Mitchell, Genevieve Newell, Zaida Woodward Newell, Anne H. Porter, Helen V. Power, Annette Smith, Roberta Carr Walker, William C. White, Eargia Winters, and Arnita Woodard-Riley.
Ellen Pettilt is the project director of the implementation phase of the oral history and will soon be announcing the personnel for the project. During this phase of the project, chairmen and co-chairmen will be enlisted to head up various working groups, to coordinate interviewers and interviewees, to select people to maintain and train others in the use of the recording equipment, to plan programs for community events, and so forth.
The next membership meeting of the Attala Historical Society will be on Thursday, March 15, at 7 p.m., at the Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center. The oral history project will be an informative part of the program to bring the members and the public up to date on the progress of collecting people's memories of life and times in Kosciusko and Attala County.
Alzheimers's - that disrupts family life and steadily shrinks the mental capacities of its sufferer - is one of our most feared and dreaded diseases.
Why? Because it robs us of our most cherished human faculty - our memory. We are all aware how memory enriches and guides our life. We remember daily family, friends, places, events, even material possessions; and we collect videos, albums, tapes, and memorabilia, to link us to these memories.
This explains why a disease that wipes out the world that we remember and cherish seems so frightening. It is a disease that puts an end to a meaningful future, leaving in its wake confusion and disorientation.
A more subtle but widespread problem that can blot our communal memory, just as Alzheimer's distroys our personal memory, is the destruction of community landmarks. Sometimes the pace of this action is slow......one by one some of our major buildings and structures are torn down. Sometimes they deteriorate through neglect. Nevertheless, we need to realize that schools, churches, commercial buildings, parks, roads, even trees contribute to our man-made enviornment, giving us a "sense of place."
The older these structures and sites are, the more meaningful, for we know that our parents and grandparents may have walked these same streets, entered these same buildings. This memory gives us a communal feeling of belonging, makes us feel at home in this town and community.
Some change is necessary, but we must be sure that its effect is truly enriching and for the good of all. If our community undergoes too too many changes, if too many historic buildings and houses disappears, or if too many neighborhoods suffer because of heavier traffic, and, too many trees are cut down, then, we too suffer from a kind of disorientation. These changes create their own confusion and rob us of our communal memory.
One remedy that can combat this dangerous problem is to remain alert to proposed changes. Decide for yourself if "bigger is better" or if any change means "progress."