The Cotton Pickers of America Monument and Sharecroppers Interpretive Center is the flagship project of Khafre, Inc. This project, like none other, documents the history of field hands, landowners, and the usually forgotten mule that worked from “kin to kain’t” (can see in the morning to can’t see at night), and their truth and reconciliation about the “Old and New South.” This Monumental project presents an opportunity to not only give dignity to those who made cotton "king," but also to say "thank you" to those who with their sweat equity investments made cotton production the number one industry in America, for over two-hundred years. Personal narratives will be used in the telling of this remarkable history.
Therefore, in recognition of the people who prospered from the cotton industry, and in honor of the folks who planted, chopped and picked cotton, Khafre, Inc shall erect a monument that will be approximately 25 feet tall and will be seated on approximately 20 acres of prime cotton/“blues” land along Highway 61. The Monument is intended to increase awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of historic sites, structures, and landscapes relating to the cotton industry and the sharecroppers experience. The goal is to give dignity back to those who may have lost it along the way to and from the cotton fields.
Khafre, Inc is working with Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) professors Dr. Carroll Van West and Dr. Rebecca Conard, Ed Dwight, a renowned monument developer, based in Denver, CO, and several other advisors to create the design parameters needed to gain immediate attention, national exposure and above all meaningful financial support from notably individuals, Washington, D.C. and regional sponsors. We have included in this proposal a design concept, by Mr. Dwight that includes a historical museum/gift shop/learning and community development center that ensures the entire plan has an institutional dynamic. This plan we believe will garner significant investments, regionally, nationally and perhaps internationally as well.
This proposed concept enhances a myriad of areas that are related to systemic growth in the Mississippi Delta. The Center, with regard to economic development, will provide opportunities for other businesses to be located near this new tourist area, which not only celebrates the agricultural contributions of African Americans, but all cotton pickers of the American South.
The Design Plan
We shall erect the Cotton Pickers of America Monument and Sharecroppers Interpretive Center, in recognition of the people who prospered from the cotton business, and also in honor of the folks who planted, chopped, picked and milled it on a daily basis for their livelihood. The Center shall stand as a historic reminder of dignity restored on approximately 20 acres of prime “blues” land situated along Highway 61. It will include industries that represent arts and crafts, food products from the southern culture, and other novelty products that represent the Delta region. The Center will draw tourists from around the world who cherish southern culture and want to learn more about the dimensions behind the genre of blues music and the cotton industry. Local and international artists will be asked to perform at the Center to celebrate blues and its contributions to American culture. Likewise, writers and other artists will be asked to contribute at the Center to celebrate southern literature, art, and humanities.
The vision for the Cotton Pickers Monument and Sharecroppers Interpretive Center is to create a non-distracting environment where visitors can:
• contemplate the local significance of the cotton fields.
• understand and appreciate the national significance of sharecroppers' contributions to the cotton industry and its importance to the national economy.
• experience a personal connection with this human story.
Khafre, Inc has taken the broad purpose and vision statement into consideration in developing the plan for the Cotton Pickers of America Monument and Sharecroppers Interpretive Center. The following components will be included in The Plan:
• several additional interpretive support sculptures
• a walking historical tour through the world of cotton with story boards
• decorative benches & sitting areas
• a central water feature (a decorative fountain)
• an area for outside child development & recreation
• a gift shop for local folk art display and commerce
• a small cotton field for tourists, school children, and others to have that authentic cotton pickin’ experience
• an entryway paved with “Legacy Bricks,” that are engraved with the names of families, who worked tirelessly to make cotton “king” in America.
• a museum that will serve as a folio and as an abundant source of learning about:
a. the history of cotton and the blues.
b. objectives and strategies of the slave (no pay) and sharecropper (low pay) experience.
• a series of vignettes/sites that allow the visitor to visualize the rural setting at the time of slavery, understand cotton picking, sharecropping, and the measureable success of the African American farmer.
• a core segment of the cotton field, representative of the plantation experience, in a way that allows visitors to visualize and imagine the influence of landscape features on the strategy and economic outcome of plantation owners.
• a replica, to the greatest extent practicable, of the land within the boundary of the typical plantation as it appeared in the 1800s.
• a replica of the overseer's station and the general store (commissary).
The overall theme is to include in visual, graphic, and textual form, a rigorous history of the African American “Cotton Picking” and farm labor experience in the Mississippi Delta. This will include a monumental central theme, as well as a “History Walk” through the slave experience, from arrival in America through the intense struggle & dark days of hopeless despair of the slave consciousness, to the limited freedom accorded by Emancipation, to the hope of the Movement initiated by the Black visionaries that gave so much for the ultimate freedom of all.