Bicentennial photo gallery celebrates Hattiesburg


Hattiesburg unveiled the Downtown Photo Gallery celebrating Mississippi’s Bicentennial on Nov. 9 to honor stories told by Hattiesburg locals.

Storefronts lining the streets of Downtown Hattiesburg feature photos taken by leaders in the Hattiesburg community. Each of the 8 Hattiesburg community leaders’ photos featured in the gallery captured an element of authenticity that is representative of Hattiesburg.

Blue Magnolia Films in conjunction with Robert St. John, Hattiesburg Arts Council, Visit Hattiesburg, Downtown Hattiesburg and The City of Hattiesburg collaborated to create the gallery as part of the Mississippi Bicentennial.

“We have a walking history lesson that is about to be unveiled in Downtown Hattiesburg, and of course we want to share our story with the many visitors that walk the streets of Hattiesburg as well,” HHDA Executive Director Andrea Saffle said. “This collection ties into the statewide initiative of the Mississippi Bicentennial.”

Participants in the gallery include: local restaurant owner Robert St. John, Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Arts Council Rebekah Stark Johnson, Musician Carey Hudson, Founder of Hattiesburg Clinic Dr. Richard H. Clark, Managing Editor of The Student Printz Hiba Tahir, Hattiesburlesque songstress Abigail Lenz Allen, Historian David S. Price, and U.S. Army Veteran and Hub Award Recipient Charles Brown.

Each of the photographs in the gallery tell one of the many stories that makes up the character of Hattiesburg.

Tahir is the current managing editor of the newspaper at The University of Southern Mississippi, and she was chosen to tell her story through her photos in the gallery. Window storefronts feature a photo story by Tahir which captures the writing of her novel.

“I’ve been working on a novel…about a hijabi who writes popular anonymous stories and then has to deal with the fallout when they begin to come true in her small suburban hometown,” Tahir said in her photo essay video.

“For Hattiesburg [the photos] represent the diversity and tolerance and love and acceptance that you will find in this town.” Allen said. “You would think when you come to the Deep South you might find less tolerance and acceptance and comfort between different races, and religions, and all that. But it is a very warm and inviting place that accepts people for who they are here in Hattiesburg and that’s an incredible thing.”

For nine months, storytelling workshops were held across the state to encourage communities to take part in the project.

“That creative can-do progressive and respectable perspective is captured with the narratives and character with our own set of story tellers in this city,” Barker said. “When you think of the good that permeates from Hattiesburg, these are all from the folks who have sowed the seeds of prosperity and quality of life.”

The Celebrating Mississippi’s Bicentennial Downtown Photo Gallery will be posted from November through the end of January.