JACKSON, Miss. – Lawmakers on Monday approved a bill authorizing the multimillion-dollar construction of two new Mississippi museums — one devoted to the civil rights struggle and another focused on the state’s overall history.
The legislation, which had the backing of Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, passed after being stalled in a debate over whether private money had to be collected before state funds would be released.
“The Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History will serve as outstanding projects to teach the lessons of our past and honour those who shaped our great state. Both will be positive for our state’s image,” Barbour said in a statement.
Barbour, a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, renewed calls for a civil rights museum early this year, weeks after coming under fire for comments in a magazine article in which critics said he downplayed the dangers of the civil rights era in Mississippi. The state was at the centre of the struggle in the U.S. South to end racial segregation and guarantee voting rights for blacks.