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Museum director ready to move forward

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Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 11:45 pm

The Bogalusa City Council’s amendment to the City Code early this month to allow for museums in the neighborhood of the historic Robert Hicks home enables the Robert “Bob” Hicks Foundation to move forward with its plans to turn the house into a Civil Rights Museum and Cultural Center.

Executive Director Barbara Hicks-Collins is now working to get the modest home, which was in the thick of the Civil Rights action at the height of the era, listed on the National Registry of Historical Buildings.

While that is in progress, Hicks-Collins offered a vision of what she believes could become a national draw to Bogalusa and issued a call for participation in making the dream a reality.

She said Bogalusa was a microcosm of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

Oral histories and historical displays will be a part of the Museum and Cultural Center, but Hicks-Collins envisions much more than a simple repository of artifacts. She wants to create a living place of interactive education that is as much about the present and the future as it is about the past.

“The museum will forever commemorate the civil rights movement as it symbolizes the monumental contribution of the men, women and children who struggled for African-American freedom, justice and equality,” she said. “But it won’t just be Daddy’s suit or A.Z. Young’s hat. Artifacts will be part of the museum, but it’s not an artifact-driven museum.

“I want to bring mentors in from all over the country. I think if you empower a person and make them aware of the people who made sacrifices for them, their inner selves will make them want to move forward and do great things, then reach back and bring other people up. It opens the door, and they reach and reach.”

The Museum and Cultural Center would house art, photographs, films, theatrical productions and special events. Hicks-Collins wants to partner with area schools to encourage students to learn about their local civil rights leaders and to express what they learn through art, song, dance, poetry or even rap music.

She urges everyone to join in her dream.

Hicks Foundation committee members are in daily dialogue with consultants, architects and other supporters who are interested in helping create a museum that can also serve as a center for study and dialogue for people nationwide, Hicks-Collins said.

“Now is the time for residents of the parish to take the next step,” she said.

“We are calling on all businesses, churches, organizations, college students, schools and everyday citizens who are currently living in Bogalusa, and those from Bogalusa who now live in other places throughout the country. This is your museum and we need your support.”

The Foundation seeks donations, sponsorships, in-kind contributions and people with fundraising and networking skills. It’s looking for a grant writer, an artist and a social media marketer.

It’s also looking for pieces of the past that relate to the local fight for equality during the civil rights era.

“Artifacts from this era are packed away in many homes waiting to be displayed as part of this museum,” Hicks-Collins said.

Donated or loaned items will be kept safe and secure in the Museums of Cassidy Park until the Civil Rights Museum and Cultural Center is completed, she said.

To get involved or for additional information, contact Hicks-Collins at 732-7449 or 504-237-4656.

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