JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – The Margaret Walker Center received a $450,000 Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation to fund a two-part project that builds on the center’s expansion while honoring the legacy of Black women at Jackson State University (JSU). 

“Since 2019, we’ve been lucky to receive three rounds of funding from the Mellon Foundation, and the most current incarnation of that will enable us, over the next year, to do two major projects. The central piece of it is a feasibility study,” said Robert Luckett, Ph.D., director of the Margaret Walker Center and professor of history. 

The feasibility study consists of three parts: community engagement, expansion of the Center, and ultimately the development of the Center as a museum and archive. 

The end result will be the design plans and market analysis for a new facility with all of the modern needs of a 21st-century archive to protect historic collections, enable the Center to grow those holdings, and acquire new manuscript collections, personal papers, oral histories, and artifacts.

The newly developed feasibility study will further promote engagement with the surrounding JSU community, the Metro-Jackson area, and beyond.

The other project made possible by this round of Mellon funding is the fabrication and installation of a permanent Margaret Walker exhibit detailing the poet and novelist’s life.

“Her life was the 20th century. In 1973, Margaret founded what she called her Black Studies Institute, but the official name was Institute for the Study of the History, Life, and Culture of Black People,” Luckett said.