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Dock Boggs and John Hurt collaborated on one piece for their New York audience: the evening's final tune, "Banjo Clog," featured banjo by Boggs and clog dancing by Hurt. The two then parted ways and pursued their new recording a performing careers - Peter K. Siegel, The Friends of Old Time Music

Author Topic: We all have work to do  (Read 1447 times)

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Offline jed

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We all have work to do
« on: February 22, 2024, 12:42:50 AM »
Some of y'all know that my work since 2017 has been in the wacky world of political organizing and activism - seven years this month.  In September and October 2016 - just before all hell broke loose, it was my great good fortune to do some Blues Travelin' with the Chezz across the length and much of the breadth of the Mississippi Delta, compiling a list of experiences and memories - to borrow from Howlin' Wolf - longer than my right arm.  One of our coolest experiences was visiting the backwoods location Mary Hurt had designated for Grandpa John Hurt's museum. 

The museum is no more.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C3odJ3WNVTJ/?igsh=NGdnZzB3aDlzYTNx

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fire-destroys-mississippi-john-hurt-museum/ar-BB1iFEj1

https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2024/02/21/mississippi-john-hurt-museum-burns-down-in-carroll-county-mississippi/72689068007/

Ms. Hurt had expressed related concerns about her grandfather's Blues Highway sign (which reminded me of the fate of several versions of Emmett Till's sign). 

Please share this news widely.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 11:50:54 AM by banjochris »
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Offline lindy

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2024, 11:49:22 AM »
Wow.

I'm one of several Weenies who have had the experience of sitting on the porch of the house and playing a tune ("Frankie"). Then soaking up the peacefulness of the wooded surroundings, befitting the image of John Hurt I've constructed based on film footage and interviews.

If indeed it was an act of arson and by some chance the arsonists are caught, I hope their sentences include watching that same footage and listening to all of Hurt's recordings.

Lindy



Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2024, 03:47:33 PM »
One must wonder whether some of the red-shirted nazis with flags in Nashville last week took that rented U-Haul truck down to Mississippi.

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Offline Vermonter

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2024, 08:51:39 AM »
So far there is no report that this tragic fire was caused by arson. Does anybody know anything more?
So much that was irreplaceable is lost.

Offline lindy

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2024, 04:49:41 PM »
*If* the local investigators show an interest in the case, and *if* someone informs the Jackson-based Clarion-Ledger newspaper about any updates, we might hear some new information.

I did a search using the terms "Mary Hurt" and "Mississippi John Hurt" and got several hits for stories posted within the past 3-4 days, but they don't really add anything to what was posted earlier.

https://www.npr.org/2024/02/22/1233089909/museum-honoring-mississippi-bluesman-john-hurt-is-destroyed-in-a-fire

and

https://www.msn.com/en-us/music/news/fire-destroys-museum-honoring-legendary-blues-musician-mississippi-john-hurt/ar-BB1iMXq2

I noticed that the npr report stated that Mary Hurt lives in Illinois, had not seen the damage yet when she was interviewed, yet she "believes it may have been arson." The history of Mississippi makes me immediately consider a similar conclusion, but the former news reporter in me says the evidence so far is slim, and that my biases are in operation.

Lindy
« Last Edit: February 27, 2024, 10:07:09 AM by lindy »

Offline Stuart

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2024, 10:03:16 AM »
Thanks for the post, Lindy and for the additional links. Like you, I'm going to wait until the experts finish their investigation (if there is one), before I draw any conclusions.

One way or another, it's a tragic loss with many of the items being irreplaceable.

« Last Edit: February 27, 2024, 10:23:16 AM by Stuart »

Offline eric

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2024, 10:53:59 AM »
Exactly, Stuart.
--
Eric

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2024, 12:57:59 PM »
While Mississippi is still a rough state for African American life, we've seen progress in elections there since 2018 - they finally brought their voter rolls back to life and each time, our guys get closer to winning.  In 2022, two of our national voter registration and GOTV groups saw fit to help promote Mississippi elections.  That's helping.  But still, these flares keep coming from the dying Confederacy - whose wealthiest members continue to pursue research initiatives (e.g., polls, focus groups) to inform their continuing efforts to maximize division in the population, increasing their own fortunes. 

The museum's historic landmark designation - received literally hours before the destruction - triggered investigation by state and federal entities - MS Fire Marshal, MS Bureau of Investigation and DOJ's Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the FBI.  Those will take time; given the ashen nature of the remains, hope for evidence is more prayer than anything - but I still remember being surprised by what I learned from my very first FBI comic book (which I hope is still somewhere - may have the original dust), so they may yet be able to finger the perps.

Mary Hurt is welcoming any and all ideas for rebuilding; she summoned the energy to post a GoFundMe, which should help provide resources to rebuild and, with luck and good ideas, will provide a broadly-promoted destination to bask in and spread the love that emanates from John Hurt's music.  In the meantime, her Foundation Facebook page is pretty active; she could use a boost from supporters.

GFM:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/mississippi-john-hurts-legacy-will-rise
ok then:  http://jed.net

Offline lindy

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2024, 05:10:02 PM »
Great, thanks for the clarifying information, Jed, especially the news that investigative agencies are showing some interest. I also went to the Foundation facebook page and read Mary's description of receiving anonymous threats by phone. The progress you mentioned is not uniform throughout rural Mississippi.

L

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2024, 05:39:18 PM »
That's why we keep trying to elect good people there.  I figure we'll start tipping the scales in 2026-2028.  While the Confederacy will ultimately die a natural death, we have to continue infusing the landscape with positive work while bringing the legislature to heel, which is a longtime project not yet begun in earnest.

There's a lot of history that Mary Hurt provides in her posts and comments on the FB page.  I'd lay odds that MS-based racists don't use burner phones.  Where did you see the comment about threatening phone calls?
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Offline lindy

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2024, 06:13:13 PM »
This paragraph is from the second post by Mary Hurt on the Foundation facebook page:

"Over the past several years, the historic St. James Cemetery where John Hurt is buried was illegally sold, renamed, and desecrated. A marker to honor John Hurt, erected by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at the intersection of Highway 7 and County Road 204, was knocked down and then mysteriously disappeared. I have received numerous death threats - including a warning that my home would be burnt with me in it. And now this! Mississippi John Hurt is not welcome in Carroll County, Mississippi. As the most famous resident to emerge from this otherwise unremarkable town, it is shameful that he is not celebrated there."

Please forgive my mind for filling in the words "by phone" to the sentence about death threats.

Lindy

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2024, 09:34:58 PM »
Thanks; the cemetery land has a long and winding history of appropriation and legal wrangling.  I hope she timely reported all the hate crimes both to police and the locality's prevailing state legislators.  The rebuilding should include thorough AV monitoring. 
ok then:  http://jed.net

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #12 on: February 29, 2024, 01:49:09 AM »
Word is getting out.  Elijah just donated, and some guy named Derek just became the top contributor.
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Offline jostber

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2024, 01:34:25 AM »
My donation has been done today as well. Hope and support for the Foundation to get back to having a museum and a marker.

Offline lindy

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2024, 08:46:44 PM »
This story is two weeks old, but I just now saw it. The first few paragraphs are new information for me, the rest is a review of old info regarding the museum fire:

https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2024/03/04/mississippi-john-hurt-museum-fire-and-old-valley-store-vandalism/72843525007/

Lindy

Offline Johnm

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2024, 11:01:29 AM »
Hi all,
I don't think we should publicly post donor's names unless we post the name of every donor--just my opinion.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stuart

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2024, 12:19:32 PM »
Hi all,
I don't think we should publicly post donor's names unless we post the name of every donor--just my opinion.
All best,
Johnm

I did it as a FYI, John, as a follow up to eric's post. The list of donors is posted at the GoFundMe page. However, since you don't want any individual names posted here, I deleted my post.

Offline Johnm

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2024, 01:51:32 PM »
Thanks, Stuart.

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2024, 02:59:23 PM »
BTW, the Jackson Fire Marshal finally confirmed that the house fire was not electrical.  The local PD were unavailable for comment on a connection between the two events.
ok then:  http://jed.net

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2024, 07:02:13 PM »
ok then:  http://jed.net

Offline Lignite

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2024, 06:48:07 AM »
Wont let us read without a subscription Jed, and I am curious. Can you paraphrase?

Offline lindy

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2024, 10:00:27 AM »
Mississippi John Hurt marker stolen in Valley Store break-in over week after museum fire

Pioneer blues and folk guitarist Mississippi John Hurt spent many nights entertaining at the Valley Store in Carroll County. The sheriff's office is investigating a break-in at the historic store located on County Road 41 in the Teoc community.

The break-in comes over a week after Mississippi John Hurt Museum was destroyed by fire.

A press release states deputies were dispatched to the store Saturday after the property owners reported damage to the store. Teoc is located about 8 miles northwest of North Carrollton. The community was also listed as one of the 10 most endangered historical places in the state in 2009, according to the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

According to police, the owners were driving by the store, when they noticed the front door was open. Once inside the store, the owners saw several items were missing, and some windows had been broken out.

The press release said most noticeably, the blues trail marker for John Hurt was "stolen" from the front of the store. No other stolen items were listed.

Neither Sheriff Clint Walker nor Chief Deputy Adam Eubanks were immediately available to answer whether any leads for a potential suspect involved in the vandalism are connected to a recent fire that recently destroyed the Mississippi John Hurt Museum.

On Feb. 21, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office announced a Delta Electric service technician found the museum "fully engulfed in flames."

"The Mississippi John Hurt Foundation regrets to inform you that the Mississippi John Hurt Museum was burned down early this morning — only hours after receiving landmark status. John Hurt has long been a symbol of kindness, and the museum has always been a reminder of his gentle soul. This vicious act of arson is devastating news. We will share more information about this hateful vandalism at a later time," according to the Mississippi John Hurt Foundation's social media page.

Mississippi John Hurt was a legendary bluesman, who first recorded in the 1920s and was recorded by the Library of Congress in the 1960s. He died in 1966. The Mississippi Blues Trail records say Hurt used to play his guitar while sitting on the steps of the Valley Store.

The last report from police stated no foul play was suspected in the Feb. 21 fire. It is unknown if that statement has changed.

On Feb. 23, the foundation took to social media again thanking the public for support regarding the "utter destruction" of the museum. The post also stated the challenges connected to John Hurt's legacy.

"Over the past several years, the historic St. James Cemetery where John Hurt is buried was illegally sold, renamed, and desecrated," the post states. "A marker to honor John Hurt, erected by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History at the intersection of Highway 7 and County Road 204, was knocked down and then mysteriously disappeared. I have received numerous death threats — including a warning that my home would be burnt with me in it. And now this! Mississippi John Hurt is not welcome in Carroll County, Mississippi. As the most famous resident to emerge from this otherwise unremarkable town, it is shameful that he is not celebrated there."

The Mississippi John Hurt Foundation has established a GoFundMe for anyone who would like to donate.

The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said it is seeking information from the public as to the identity of the persons involved in the theft and vandalism. If you have any information, please contact the office at 662-237-9283 or Greenwood Leflore Carroll County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477

I also suggest trying to access these photos:

https://www.clarionledger.com/picture-gallery/news/2024/02/21/mississippi-john-hurt-museum-photos/72690365007/

and the article with the headline: "The Winding Tale of the Missing Marker Honoring Delta Bluesman Mississippi John Hurt." I think that's the one Jed referred to.

Both stories show up on this Clarion-Ledger search page:

https://www.clarionledger.com/search/?q=Mississippi+John+Hurt

But it looks like the pay wall only allows one story per visit.

Lindy

« Last Edit: April 04, 2024, 10:06:42 AM by lindy »

Offline jed

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Re: We all have work to do
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2024, 10:19:28 AM »
Thanks, Lindy.  The picture gallery is pretty harrowing, and includes all the pix in the article.  I think I viewed 3 articles in the month before it locked me out.  It also may care how often someone visits, as I've visited many times over the past few years.  It may pop a $1/month six-month subscription ask onto your screen.  I use those for several publications I visit rarely but enough to get pinged.  I've sometimes found success opening an article in a private window, but papers appears to be catching up to that.  In any case, here's the winding tale update:


The winding tale of the missing marker honoring Delta bluesman Mississippi John Hurt
Pam Dankins
Mississippi Clarion Ledger
March 31, 2024

AVALON, Miss. — The mystery surrounding the missing blues trail marker honoring legendary bluesman Mississippi John Hurt and the cause of the Mississippi John Hurt Museum fire is as winding as the maze of narrow roads that crisscross the Eastern edge of the Delta.

Unraveling the winding mysteries is a complicated task.

The two incidents occurred just over a week apart from one another, forming a plausible thought that the alleged stolen marker and the destroyed museum were connected.

As authorities continued their investigation, police statements issued via press release conflicted with the accounts and claims made by one of John Hurt’s family members.

Questions arose. Where is the marker? Was it ever stolen? What was the cause of the fire that destroyed a building with such cultural and historical value?

Initial reports from the Carroll County Sheriff's Office stated the marker was "stolen" during a March 4 break-in> at the Valley Store in Carroll County. The break-in happened over a week after the Mississippi John Hurt Museum was destroyed by a fire.

Floyd Bailey, curator of the Mississippi John Hurt landmarks, walks through the charred and melted remains of the John Hurt Museum in Carroll County on Friday. Bailey describes what the building looked like before the Feb. 21 fire burned the museum to the ground. In the background is St. James Missionary Baptist Church, where John Hurt's funeral was held.

The day after the marker was allegedly stolen, the sheriff's office released another statement notifying the public that the iconic blues musician's historical marker was "confirmed to be in the possession" of the Hurt family.

But a family member who talked to the Clarion Ledger stated otherwise.

Mary Hurt, granddaughter of John Hurt and the founder of Mississippi John Hurt Museum, told the Clarion Ledger on March 7 that no one in her family had possession of the marker. Mary also leads the charitable foundation that supports the museum.

"(Carroll County Sheriff Clint Walker) did not call me about the marker. He talked to someone to find out where it was, but we do not have that marker," Hurt told the Clarion Ledger.

Allan Hammons, manager of the Mississippi Blues Markers project, describes the work needed to restore the John Hurt Blues Marker while at his Greenwood office on Friday. Time and weather have taken a toll. The vinyl on the back of the marker needs to be replaced and the whole marker cleaned.

Here's what we know about the travel of the marker:
  • Walker confirmed to the Clarion Ledger that the marker was never stolen.
  • Mary Hurt confirmed to the Clarion Ledger that members of the foundation are the ones who moved the marker from the Valley Store. There are only six members of the foundation listed on the most recent federal 990 form available to the public. Mary Hurt is one of those six. The foundation's website lists five members. She did not specify which foundation member took the marker.
  • Allan Hammons of Hammons and Associates of Greenwood, the company that oversees the design and placement the markers at a site, confirmed to the Clarion Ledger on March 14 that the company received possession of the marker the evening of March 7. While at the company, it will undergo routine cleaning and maintenance.
  • Afterward, it will be placed at a new site per the direction of Visit Mississippi, a division of the Mississippi Development Authority, director Rochelle Hicks said.
  • Hicks told the Clarion Ledger on March 21 a new site has yet to be determined since the John Hurt Museum, which was burned down, was slated to be the new site for the marker. Hicks said Visit Mississippi and the Mississippi Blues Commission are in discussion about other potential sites for the marker.
Sheriff Walker told the Clarion Ledger the report of the "stolen" marker came about because no one, to his knowledge, notified the Valley Store landowners that the marker would be moved.

"The lack of communication between those two parties — Mary Hurt and the landowners — that the marker would be moved led to a report being filed as it being stolen," Walker said. "The owners of the Valley Store reported the crime, and we reported it to the public."

But why was the marker removed in the first place?

In an interview with Mary Hurt, she told the Clarion Ledger she fought "for years" to relocate the marker from the Valley Store, which was erected by the Mississippi Blues Commission on Feb. 25, 2008.

Floyd Bailey, curator of the Mississippi John Hurt landmarks, walks through St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Carroll County on Friday. The funeral for blues singer, songwriter and guitarist John Hurt was held at St. James. On the pulpit sits a Bible, a Baptist hymnal and tokens of a man playing guitar.

Hurt said she wanted the marker moved because it should be placed where John Hurt had "deeper connections." Not at a location, where Hurt said, it would have been "impossible for him to play at because of the Jim Crow Era."

The Clarion Ledger reached out to the Mississippi Blues Commission researchers to clarify John Hurt's connection to the Valley Store, considering the department's records say John Hurt used to play his guitar while sitting on the steps of the Valley Store.

"The decision was made to put it at the Valley Store because it seemed to be a good location in between the gravesite and spot where his house had been moved. It was already a known location for die-hard blues fans around the world," Wanda Clark, creative director under the Mississippi Blues Trail, told the Clarion Ledger via email.

Clark provided the Clarion Ledger links to pages from a book detailing John Hurt's connection to the Valley Store. The book titled “Mississippi John Hurt: His Life, His Times, His Blues," was written by Philip Ratcliffe and published in 2011 by the University Press of Mississippi.

Clark said the book appeared to have been "well researched and documented with footnotes." Mary Hurt wrote the foreword — a piece of writing that normally endorses or adds credibility to the author and their work.

One excerpt on page 17 reads, "... (John) would sit and play his guitar outside the Valley Store and listen to the local gossip."

"... John spent much of his early teens hanging out with these white children around the Valley area, apparently with little racial complication," another excerpt on page 32 states.

And on page 39, the book states John had a "close relationship" with the succession of owners of the Valley Store. There was also a picture of John Hurt centered at the top of page 133 "with friends on the front porch of the Valley Store" dated March 1963, around three years before Hurt passed away.

Part of Mary Hurt's foreword reads as: "I am so grateful to Phil for all the hard work, travel, resources, and in-depth research, that have been applied in order to write this wonderful biography of Daddy John's life. It will be a prized resource for my family generations to come."

Museum curator Floyd Bailey concurred with the book, and said that Mississippi John Hurt performed at the Valley Store on Saturday nights.

Even though conflicting narratives exist regarding the marker's placement at the Valley Store, one thing is certain: Mary Hurt was approved to relocate the marker. This approval by the blues trial commission was granted almost a year ago.

"It was June 2023, when I petitioned to the blues commission for the marker to be relocated to my grandfather's house or the community church. The blues trail marker sitting in front of the store, which has been abandoned for many decades, had no connection to my grandfather's life at all," Hurt said. "I presented my case to the Mississippi blues commission, and they agreed the marker should be relocated."

After authorization was given to Hurt, Hurt said she went to the Carroll County Board of Supervisors in October 2023 and December 2023, but no progress in moving the marker was ever made.

Hurt provided the Clarion Ledger with the letter of confirmation she received from the blues commission on or around June 15, 2023. The letter states the site change was voted on and approved by the Mississippi Blues Commission.

Hicks confirmed to the Clarion Ledger this information was true by providing the Clarion Ledger a copy of the letter as well.
Mary Hurt and Rochelle Hicks both provided the Clarion Ledger with the letter of confirmation Hurt received from the blues commission on or around June 15, 2023, which stated the site change was voted on and approved by the Mississippi Blues Trail Commission.

Hurt told the Clarion Ledger she sees the store break-in as a way to "cover up of the real tragedy" that occurred on Feb. 21: the fire at the Mississippi John Hurt Museum.

It was reported in the afternoon of Feb. 21 by the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department that a Delta Electric service technician was dispatched to the museum's location. Upon arrival, the technician found the museum "fully engulfed in flames."

Walker stated the cause stemmed from an electrical fire with no foul play suspected at this time. Hurt claimed arson.

"Sheriff Walker is talking about a marker that is still here. And if someone does destroy that marker, it could be made again," Mary said. "But this 200-year-old house, that was burned down for racial reasons, cannot."
Memorabilia and antiques on display inside the former home of blues legend Mississippi John Hurt are seen Dec. 10, 2002 near Avalon, Miss.

Hurt said the day before the fire, the museum received recognition on the National Register of Historic Places. And hours later, the building went up in flames and down in ashes.

"My grandfather and his mother owned that house since 1837. That house was all of my relatives, all of them. It's like I'm burying generations of my family all over again. Seeing that place — that empty field — where the house sat for so many years is now nothing but cinders," Hurt said.

Hurt told the Clarion Ledger on March 27 the Mississippi State Fire Marshal chief confirmed to her that the cause of fire was not an electrical one, as indicated in February reports by Carroll County police. Hurt did add that no official report has been released.

State Fire Marshal officials also confirmed to the Clarion Ledger on March 27 that no official report has been issued.

"We have not released a cause of the fire because we are still waiting on official test results, and we will not rule out anything until the official test results are in," officials with the state office told the Clarion Ledger.

The Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the Feb. 21 scene with other departments such as the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

The office said it is unknown at this time when those findings will be solidified.

According to Hurt, racial factors are the underlying cause behind the burning of the museum. Hurt accused the Carroll County police department of "race baiting" — using statements about race to often intentionally influence racism or anger toward a specific group of people.

In response to Hurt's claims, Walker told the Clarion Ledger he found Mary statements to be "totally false." Walker said the department has never been accused of "race baiting" to his knowledge.

"Like I stated before, if she would have notified the owners of the property that she removed the marker. We wouldn't even have had a phone call out there for an investigation. But due to her lack of inability to relay information to the owners about the marker, it led to a lot of man hours and investigation hours that could have been used somewhere else," Walker stated via phone call.

To Mary, the investigation hours should have been placed "somewhere else" — the fire at the museum.

"The fire was 100 percent investigated by every federal, state and local agency. So, every effort exhausted was exhausted to investigate it. And like I'll say again, if she wouldn't have gone and removed the marker, I wouldn't have had to waste time and county taxpayer money to investigate a crime that didn't even happen," Walker told the Clarion Ledger.

"So, as you can probably tell in my voice, I do not appreciate Ms. Hurt making accusations against the Sheriff's Department of racially motivating the investigation. There's no evidence of a crime. From the federal level to the state level to the local level, it appears at this time it was an electrical fire," Walker stated. "No evidence supports any criminal act."

Walker told the Clarion Ledger he did not want to answer any more questions regarding any comments or accusations made by Hurt.

"I really appreciate the help from all the state and federal agencies quick response into investigating this historic landmark in our county," Walker said. "And again, I do not appreciate Ms. Hurt making accusations that something we've done was racially motivated. There's no evidence to support that or substantiate it, and I strongly object to any comments she makes about that toward this department."

With the loss of the museum, Hurt said an old church in Avalon is the only material remnant of John's history. Avalon is an all-Black town in the eastern Mississippi Delta. All she has now are memories. Hurt was 9 years old when her grandfather died in 1966.

"My grandfather was the kindest, gentlest and most humane human being that I have ever met in my life. He would smile and reach out to people and try to help anybody regardless of race. Yes, he was a musician. Yes, he was a self-taught musician. But for me, he was the motivator behind me as a human being," Mary stated.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/85BvT5X6WSo?si=pFmSTtEwCc5ARdDN
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