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Jul/Aug 2013 Issue

New Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is a grand slam

It’s been a dream for more than 60 years, but the much-anticipated state-of-the-art home for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame is now a reality.

Under the management of the Louisiana State Museum system, the new 27,500-square-foot museum in Natchitoches houses both the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Northwest Louisiana Regional History Museum.

Officially opened in June, the Hall of Fame occupies the first floor of the new museum, with the second floor showcasing Louisiana’s sports paradise, a blend of sports history and culture, along with the Northwest Louisiana Regional History Museum. The museum is located at 800 Front St.

Members of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association began planning a Hall of Fame to honor the state’s outstanding athletes and coaches in 1951, but the first election to the hall was not held until 1958. It wasn’t until 1972 that a facility was opened at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches to house the hall.

The new shrine to sports legends is a dream come true for those who have envisioned a museum that showcases not only art and artifacts, but provides a captivating experience for visitors and a repository for state sports history.

The Hall of Fame collection includes color portraits of the 285 members and a collection of items such as baseballs, footballs, bats, gloves, jerseys, golf clubs, helmets, shoes, and other memorabilia contributed by Hall of Fame members and their families. It also includes the Grits and Mary Gresham Collection showcasing hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.

Hours are 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1–5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission had not been determined at press time. Show your AAA card for a 10 percent discount.

For details, visit or call (318) 238-4255.

The new Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in Natchitoches features a modern design. Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame photo


Internment Museum recalls prejudice, perseverance

For the “crime” of their ancestry, thousands of Japanese Americans were forced to leave their homes during World War II and live in internment camps–including two in Arkansas–and now a new museum is guarding that grievous epoch from being forgotten.

The new World War II Japanese American Internment Museum in McGehee, Ark., has become the permanent home of “Against Their Will: The Japanese American Experience in World War II Arkansas,” an exhibit originally created by the Life Interrupted project, a partnership between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Public History Program and the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, Calif.

Located in the McGehee’s historical train depot, the museum features artifacts, images, and exhibits that recall the two internment camps that were located in Arkansas at Rohwer and Jerome near McGehee in the Arkansas Delta. In all, nearly 17,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in barracks in the two camps.

In addition to the museum, outdoor exhibits were erected at the Rohwer site, including wayside panels and a kiosk that resembles a guard tower. It features audio components narrated by actor George Takei, who portrayed Lt. Hikaru Sulu on the original “Star Trek” television series. Takei, who was interned as a young boy with his family at Rohwer, attended the dedication of the museum and outdoor exhibits.

The museum is located at 100 S. Railroad St. Hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and admission is free.

Call (870) 222-9168 for details, or visit

Actor George Takei looking at an exhibit resembling a guard tower at the former Rohwer internment camp. Japanese American Internment Museum photo


Festival, home preserving the colorful legacy of the Man in Black in Arkansas

Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Ark., and the City of Dyess are walking the line to preserve the boyhood home of country singer Johnny Cash, as well as the story of the Historic Dyess Colony.

Dyess, located about an hour southeast of Jonesboro, was the site of an agricultural resettlement colony under the New Deal. The federal government acquired 16,000 acres in eastern Arkansas and carved out 500 homesteads. The Cash family received 40 acres and moved there from Kingsland, Ark., in 1935, and eventually purchased the land.

His family’s economic and personal struggles during the Great Depression inspired many of Cash’s songs, including “Five Feet High and Rising.”

The project will restore the Cash home and the Dyess Colony Administration Building to be used for exhibits about this New Deal site, as well as about Cash. They will open on a limited basis next spring with a grand opening in late 2014.

To raise money for the project, the Johnny Cash Music Festival will be held Aug. 17 at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro. Hosted by the two surviving Cash siblings–brother Tommy Cash and sister Joanne Cash Yates–it will feature Vince Gill, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, and more. Tickets start at $37.50.

Visit or call (888) 278-3267 for details.

For details about a new Johnny Cash museum in Nashville, Tenn., visit and other Cash-related sites in Nashville.

Related Article:
New Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville opens on a high note for the legend’s many fans.


Above: Cash’s boyhood home in Dyess, Ark. ASU photo. Below: Johnny Cash Museum photo

Johnny Cash

World War II-era destroyer turns 70

In response to a nation at war, the USS KIDD was launched into history 70 years ago this spring as the “Pirate of the Pacific,” the start of a distinguished 20-year career that included two wars and countless missions.

Today, the USS KIDD is moored on the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, La., the showpiece of the USS KIDD Veterans Memorial. Of the four Fletcher-class destroyers preserved as museums, KIDD is the only one to have been fully restored to its World War II configuration.

Every July Fourth, the ship’s guns roar to life, firing against aerial “attacks” in a dramatic battle re-enactment. The Star-Spangled Celebration kicks off at noon and features live music throughout the day leading up to a spectacular fireworks display over the river. The celebration is free, but regular ship and museum prices apply from 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Adjacent to the ship, the Veterans Memorial Museum offers an array of historical and military exhibits.

For usual hours, prices, and details, call (225) 342-1942 or visit

USS Kidd
The deck of the USS KIDD. Louisiana Office of Tourism photo

Mississippi remembers Medgar

In observance of the 50th anniversary of his death, Mississippi is commemorating the life of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers with exhibits this summer.

Evers became the first field secretary for the NAACP in Mississippi in 1954. He organized voter-registration efforts, demonstrations, and economic boycotts of companies that practiced discrimination until his assassination in the driveway of his family’s home in Jackson on June 12, 1963.

To remember his contributions to Civil Rights, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is presenting “This Is Home: Medgar Evers, Mississippi, and the Movement” through October at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building at 200 North St. in Jackson. Drawing on photos, artifacts, documents, and news film footage, the exhibit examines Evers’ family life and career.

Evers’ killing influenced the work of writers, poets, and other artists, including Eudora Welty. Through Dec. 13, the Eudora Welty House Visitors Center (1109 Pinehurst St.) in Jackson will present “Life into Fiction: The Murder of Medgar Evers and ‘Where is the Voice Coming From?’ ” The exhibit looks at how the murder impelled her to write a gripping story from the assassin’s perspective.

For hours and more information, call (601) 576-6850 or visit

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