Planned Hicks museum gets $500K federal grant

Published 4:06 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Barbara Hicks-Collins, the executive director of the Robert “Bob” Hicks Foundation, announced Tuesday that it has been selected by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and the National Park Service to receive a grant of nearly $500,000 to restore and preserve the former home of the foundation’s namesake, as well as an adjacent “1906 mill house.”

The grant will be used to transform both into a Civil Rights Museum for Bogalusa and Washington Parish. Both locations were of significance to the African-American and civil rights experience in Bogalusa, Collins said.

The grant is one of 51 projects financed throughout the United States, including three others in Louisiana, to preserve sites and to highlight stories related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century.

“I prayed daily, and my prayers were answered,” said Valeria Hicks, the 88-year-old widow of Robert Hicks, one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in Bogalusa.

Robert Hicks was also a defendant in a number of lawsuits, when black residents’ took the fight for equality in the workforce, public housing, and education to the courts.

“I am grateful and thankful for another opportunity to educate the young people, their families, and our community, of the sacrifices about the many who risked their lives — including those who died during the struggle for equality,” Valeria Hicks said.

In February, the Hicks Foundation became a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a worldwide network of 250 members in 55 countries, and its partners. The group is dedicated to providing “safe spaces to remember and preserve the most traumatic memories.”

The federal grant comes three years after the Hicks property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hicks home was a gathering place for the movement’s leaders in the 1960s, and it was protected by the Deacons for Defense and Justice, a group of African-American men like Fletcher Anderson and Reeves Perkins.

“A change is taking is taking place in our city and parish,” Collins said. “But we cannot stop here. We have history of legends and trailblazers who are deserving to be remembered.”