B.B. King has replaced Maya Angelou as the Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Cotton Pickers of America and Sharecroppers Interpretative Center - an effort to build a monument in the Mississippi Delta to honor cotton pickers.
Khafre, Inc, based in Indianola, Mississippi, began the effort in 2009 to build the complex to say thanks to those who helped build the cotton empire that fueled the American economy for nearly two centuries., says C. Sade Turnipseed, founder and executive director.
The monument will be 25-feet tall and will be located on 20 acres of cotton fields along Highway 61.
"The Cotton Pickers Monument Complex would not only help heal wounds that have festered for decades, but would also help to empower the generations of family members who have been negatively impacted by this unfortunate era in American history," Khafre said in a statement. "By embracing the shared history of many races and individuals from different social classes, it is Khafre, Inc's sincerest hope and deeply held conviction that this monument/educational center will help bridge deep racial divisions and distrust through education, outreach and recognition of the strength of the human soul. This is truly a historic endeavor that has the rare opportunity of actually transforming lives, communities, and the conversations about race in America and throughout the world."
Khafre, Inc. held weekly sessions throughout this summer to gather memories and oral histories from people with roots in the Delta, especially older African-Americans with first-hand knowledge of work in the cotton fields. If you missed a session, you can add your oral history online here.
If you're interested in helping, you can donate here. To support the cause, you can also buy a miniature of the statue and legacy bricks in the plaza. The group is also accepting art, artifacts, or literary works for inclusion in the soon-to-be-released anthology, The Cotton Pickers of America.