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Marking Graves, Maintaining Cemeteries, and Telling the Stories of Legends

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Mount Zion Missionary Baptist
(MB) Church (f. 1911)
The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund (MZMF) was named after Mount Zion Missionary Baptist (MB) Church (f. 1911) outside Morgan City, Mississippi. Organized in 1989 by Raymond ‘Skip’ Henderson, the Fund memorialized the contributions of numerous musicians interred in rural cemeteries without grave markers, serving as a conduit to provide financial support to black church communities and cemeteries in the Mississippi Delta. The MZMF erected twelve memorials to blues musicians over a 12 year period from 1990 to 2001

Deacon Booker T. Young and 
MZMF secretary DeWayne Moore in front 
of the present day Mt. Zion M.B. Church.
The renewed efforts of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund from 2010 to 2020 were spearheaded by T. DeWayne Moore, a public historian and professor at Prairie View A&M University in Texas. The descendants of 1920s blues artist Tommy Johnson and other internments at Warm Springs CME Church Cemetery obtained a permanent fifteen foot wide and half-a-mile long easement to the important site due in large part to research efforts and legal wrangling of Moore, who took over as executive director in January 2014.  Under his leadership, the military markers of Henry "Son" Simms and Jackie Brenston were located and restored. The MZMF has dedicated seven new memorials--the headstone of Frank Stokes in the abandoned Hollywood Cemetery, Memphis, TN; the flat companion stone of Ernest "Lil' Son Joe" Lawlars in Walls, MS; and in Greenville, MS, the flat markers of T-Model Ford and Eddie Cusic, and the unique, yet humble, headstone of Mamie "Galore" Davis.  On July 29, 2017, the MZMF dedicated the marker for Bo Carter.  On September 22, 2018, the headstone of Belton Sutherland was dedicated at St. John M.B. Church in Camden, Mississippi.  On March 9, 2019, the headstone of Charlie Burse was dedicated at Rose Hill Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee. In January 2020, the MZMF hired Arcola, MS-based artisan and stonemason Alan Orlicek to repaint and restore the headstone of Sonny Boy Williamson II in Tutwiler, MS.

In 2021, the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund underwent a major re-organization in the context of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, particularly its disproportionate impact on the African American communities in Mississippi. Since executive director DeWayne Moore decided to accept a professorship in Texas, where he works as a public historian at Prairie View A&M University, the primary leadership role in the MZMF has been filled by Annise Bradley.

Annise Bradley is the daughter of the late Anderson Bradley and Mariel Young, as well as the granddaughter of Abe "Caghead" Young, whose fife and drum band presided over the annual picnics of Alve Jameson near Chulahoma, Mississippi. Young’s band also paraded in a military type cadence around the perimeter of community baseball games in his native Tate County. “Dozens of young and old people,” according to one scholar, “followed behind his band…dancing and prancing in a joyous mood to the repetitive drum patterns.” It was not unusual for members of fife and drum bands to play, at one time or another, all the different instruments in the band. Abe Young could play all four instruments--and he learned to create his own fifes by heating a metal rod and hollowing out a mouth hole and five finger holes of a piece of bamboo--but he preferred the bass drum.

Gravel Springs Fife & Drum on Mr. Rogers

Othar Turner, Abe Young, and Jessie Mae Hemphill on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Posted by Mt. Zion Memorial Fund on Saturday, June 22, 2019

Annise’s great grandfather, Lonnie Young, also had a fife and drum band in Tate County around the same time that Sid Hemphill had his in Panola County. On September 21, 1959, Library of Congress folklorist Alan Lomax made some epic field recordings and oral histories at the home of fife player Ed Young in Como, Mississippi. He also took photographs of Ed Young, G.D. Young, Lonnie Young, Jr., Lonnie Young, Sr., and William Major James. To view this epic collection, please click HERE

Annise is also the mother of three daughters in college—two of whom serve in the Army National Guard. With deep roots and a passion for social service, she alleviates the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 using her connections in the staffing industry. As an Executive Board Member of both WeN’spire Entertainment Association in Memphis, TN and the Ida B. Wells Museum in Holly Springs, MS, Annise defines the future of blues tourism—emphasizing the interconnection of the African American lived experience and the music legacy of her ancestors.

The Board and the Braintrust

Senatobia, MS

Columbus, MS

Prairie View, TX

Duncan, MS
Great Granddaughter of Charley Patton

Skip Henderson, New Orleans, LA
Founder and Board Chairman

2021 Board of Associates

Robert Birdsong - Clarksdale, MS
Indiana Jones of the Blues

Joe Austin - Canton, MS
Madison County, Mississippi Liaison - Belton Sutherland

T. J. Wheeler - Hampton Falls, NH

Blues In The Schools Lecturer

Jontavious Willis - Columbus, GA

MZMF liaison in the old Southeast

Clayton "Bones" Harvey - Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Bill Pichette - Memphis. TN

Investigator and Founder of the The Little Pitcher Project

Arlo Leach - Portland, OR

Software Developer, Scholar, and Musician

Gabriel Soria - Bakersfield, CA

CA affiliate and caretaker of Rubin Lacy's headstone
MZMF secretary DeWayne Moore and
treasurer Kechia Patton Brown

Tony Manard - Memphis, TN

Songwriter, Hellbilly, and Saint

Denise Tapp - Memphis, TN

Former Blues-L Zellar and Music Consultant

Justin Thomas Brown - Elm Grove, WI

Banker, Investigator, and Master of Subterfuge

Michael Duer, Tucson, AZ

Southwestern ballymunner, taphophile, and critic

Arne Brogger, Shorewood, MN

Promoter, mastermind, and music industry liaison

Augusta Palmer, Brooklyn, NY
Professor, filmmaker, and manager of The Blues Society

Carl Nichols, Milwaukee, WI
MZMF Minister of Culture

Prakash "Slim" Pokharel, Lalitpur, Nepal
MZMF affiliate, Musician, Educator, Researcher

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