Cultural lessons in store for fifth-graders

CORINTH – Annual heritage programs for fifth-graders in Alcorn County and Corinth schools will include for the first time this year living history presentations at the Corinth Contraband Camp.
Volunteers with the nonprofit LINK organization – the Healthy Communities-Healthy Youth Initiative – again will offer students a chance to view life in earlier times.
“We try to coordinate with the schools and offer something that will tie in with the curriculum,” said LINK president Laura Gilham. “We met with teachers and got input from them as to what they would like to see us do. This is a new project we came up with, to incorporate the Contraband Camp for grade five, and we hope the students will enjoy and learn something about their history in the area.”
On Friday the students will participate in tours and living history at both the Corinth Contraband Camp and the Verandah-Curlee House.
The Heritage Festival at the Verandah-Curlee House is an annual event that begins Friday and continues Saturday with demonstrations of traditional skills such as weaving, pottery-making, candle-making, basket weaving, musicians, storytellers, arts and crafts and numerous other vendors.
“We’re glad to add another element this year at the Contraband Camp,” said LINK board member Rebecca Spence. “We did the living history there for the first time last week when the board of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History visited.”
The camp features half a dozen life-size statues depicting former slaves who lived on the grounds off North Parkway Street after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in September 1862.
The statues help tell the story of a thriving community of about 6,000 people – referred to in historical literature as a model camp – as they began post-slavery life.
“Throughout the day we’ll have a lot of visuals,” Spence said. “I think the children will learn a lot more from what they see than from what we say.”
The contraband, or freedman’s, camp residents cultivated 400 acres at the site – 300 acres cotton and the rest vegetables – so farm life will be among the demonstrations, as well as the laundry they operated, blacksmithing, education and soldiers guarding the camp.
“We want to impress on the children that we should all be so proud of the heritage those earlier generations passed on to us – of the importance of education, their industriousness, their cooperative spirit and their work ethic,” Spence said.

Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@djournal.com.

Lena Mitchel/NEMS Daily Journal