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The Museum

Artist Blog by Harlan Bozeman

In Spring of 2022, The Elaine Legacy Center received a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to develop The Elaine Museum and Richard Wright Civil Rights Center. Located along the racial divide of Main Street in the only building that stood at the time of the massacre, the museum was expected to open in Winter 2023, however, construction development has been halted and will most likely not continue due to mismanagement of funds. The museum was expected to increase revenue for the town by attracting tourists but many, including myself, are skeptical to see how and if this museum will actually do anything to benefit the residents of Elaine. It is difficult to imagine how a museum will improve the lives of people on the North side of Main Street.

When you visit Elaine, you will see more birdhouses than people. About five years ago, a couple from Northwest Arkansas opened a storefront on Main Street that sells these birdhouses. They claimed that the proceeds would be benefiting the Lee Street Community Center but I have been told that nobody knows exactly where the money is going. I was told that they wanted to establish a new narrative for the town so that you do not only read about Black death and trauma when looking into Elaine. So now when you search for Elaine online you will see that it is called America’s Birdhouse Capital, a gesture towards erasure that many people in Elaine fail to realize.

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