Natchez Mall’s Regal Cinema 4 in Natchez, Mississippi, displayed a sign today advertising the movie, “Niger 3D, Dark, Black Men” on it’s marquee. It is unclear at this point if the theater was aware of the signage and local authorities are, thus far, treating it as an act of vandalism.
From all appearances, the letters were rearranged from the official listing of movies, including “Men in Black 3 in 3D, “Marvel’s The Avengers,” and “Dark Shadows.”
Natchez, the oldest settlement on the Mississippi River, has long been known for it’s racism. During the Civil Rights era, it was the central hub of the Ku Klux Klan, who murdered several Black citizens in an attempt to lure Dr. Martin L. King Jr. there in hopes of assassinating him. With a population that consists of 44.18% White and 54.49% Black, it would be expected that tensions are high, but instead, the segregation of races is now ingrained instead of overt. Activities such as separate White/Black proms are not “formal” declarations, it’s just an accepted fact that White students will have “another option” separate from the public high school’s activities.
With the slogan, “Where the Old South Still Lives,” representing the community, tourists from around the country can come to Natchez and participate in Civil War re-enactments and eat world-class meals at southern plantations that are proudly and rigorously preserved to maintain it’s authenticity to the Confederate Old South.
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One such “attraction,” Frogmore Plantation, lists their amenities and entertainment as follows:
“Follow the early Natchez planters and their slaves through an evolution from the wilderness to a thriving 1850’s cotton plantation, and then beyond the War Between the States to a struggling new way of life.
“Listen to the slave customs, secret music, and their surprising relationships with the master, mistress, and overseer. Walk through authentically furnished slave quarters, rare steam gin, and other plantation dependencies.”
The town further shows it’s allegiance to the Old South with such landmarks as Mammy’s Cupboard, and yes, it is an insulting as establishment as it sounds. The very shape of the eatery is that of a plantation “Mammy” holding a plate ready to serve the White patrons who visit.
When speaking to Congressman Keith Ellison, (D-MN) about reparations in our NewsOne Community Series, he was very clear on what this kind of behavior supported.
You know, the neo-confederacy, where they want to remember the South in a fond way, flying the rebel flag everywhere; these people took up arms against the United States and that’s called being a “traitor.”
That’s called being a “traitor.”
Jefferson Davis [President of the Confederate States of America] was a traitor. These people were traitors against the United States and the fact that they could ever hold any honor, anywhere is an outrage. What did they fight for? Did they fight for a noble cause? No, they fought to keep other human beings in bondage. They are totally disreputable, contemptible, and hold no value in the United States of America.
As a business owner, civic leader and city alderman for over seventeen years in the City of Natchez, my father, Theodore Joseph “Bubber” West always expressed his immense pride in the evolution of Natchez and dedicated the better half of his life attempting to both encourage industry and eradicate stereotypes surrounding the “Old South,” while also acknowledging that the community had a long way to go until true racial equality and harmony were realized.
The bigotry displayed today at the Natchez Mall, both in the racist content of the sign and the elementary misspelling of a racial slur, illuminates that truth in stark relief.
Speaking exclusively with a Black citizen of Natchez, it seems the local tone is one of resignation as it pertains to the vandalism:
“The sign is typical of what goes on in Natchez. It’s just something that is, nothing worth even getting upset about — just a bunch of redneck vandals with no future.”
There has been no comment on the incident from Natchez Mall Cinema 4. When NewsOne attempted to contact them, we received no answer.