Reverend Herman D. Dennis and Margaret’s Grocery Awareness and Preservation Week (…whew.)

Good news from the Mississippi Arts Commission!

Margaret's Grocery 2005, Vicksburg MS

I got a press release that March 20-26 will be declared the “Reverend Herman D. Dennis and Margaret’s Grocery Awareness and Preservation Week” by Governor Barbour.

The Mississippi Arts Commission will also be holding their annual “Day at the Capitol” on Tuesday, March 22 from 1:00p – 3:00p on the first floor rotunda of the New Capitol in downtown Jackson.

The text of the resolution reads:
Senate Concurrent Resolution 625

WHEREAS, Reverend Herman D. “Preacher” Dennis and his late wife, Margaret Rogers Dennis, owned and resided in the establishment on Old Highway 61 North in Vicksburg, Mississippi, known locally and worldwide as “Margaret’s Grocery”; and

WHEREAS, “Miss Margaret” operated Margaret’s Grocery for over 60 years and was a faithful member of Cool Springs Missionary Baptist Church where she taught Sunday School for many years; and

WHEREAS, Preacher was an ordained minister who shared his faith in God, and his belief in equality and respect for all people; and

WHEREAS, Miss Margaret was, and Preacher continues to be, devoted to their community, their country and their faith; and

WHEREAS, Miss Margaret’s Grocery was a neighborhood gathering place where locals shopped and partook in the kinship, friendship and wisdom of Miss Margaret and Preacher Dennis; and

WHEREAS, Preacher promised Miss Margaret that if she would marry him he would build her a castle; and

WHEREAS, true to his promise, Preacher lovingly honored Miss Margaret by transforming the small country grocery into a “Bible Castle to God,” hammering, laying brick, painting and adorning it with bright colors, objects and religious verses; and

WHEREAS, Margaret’s Grocery became a draw for tourists from around the world and became and continues to be the subject of folk art and cultural tourism research, discussion and appreciation; and

WHEREAS, Miss Margaret passed away in 2009 and Preacher retired from the Grocery to reside in a Vicksburg nursing home; and

WHEREAS, citizens of Vicksburg, friends of Miss Margaret and Preacher, and folk art enthusiasts from around the world have expressed interest in maintaining, restoring and preserving Preacher’s folk art as a symbol of Mississippi’s creative spirit and cultural heritage; and

WHEREAS, Preacher will celebrate his 96th birthday on March 25, 2011; and

WHEREAS, March 22, 2011, is the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Arts Advocacy Day at the Mississippi Legislature. The Governor of the State of Mississippi has declared the week of March 20-26, 2011, as the “Reverend Herman D. Dennis and Margaret’s Grocery Awareness and Preservation Week”; and

WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we commend those individuals who have made significant contributions to their community and to the State of Mississippi:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend The Reverend Herman D. Dennis for his contributions to the community and the world in creating a unique “Bible Castle” and for sharing his preaching and the gospel with visitors from around the world.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we honor the memory of the late Margaret Rogers Dennis for being a pioneer African-American businesswoman, teacher and faithful member of the Kings Community and Cool Springs Missionary Baptist Church.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we recognize that March 20-26, 2011, has been proclaimed as the “Reverend Herman D. ‘Preacher’ Dennis and Margaret’s Grocery Awareness and Preservation Week” in Mississippi, and join the citizens of Vicksburg in honoring this location.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be presented to Reverend Dennis; his daughter, Cora Lee Dennis; Ida Mae Spooner on behalf of Miss Margaret’s family; the Cool Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi; forwarded to the Mississippi Arts Commission; and made available to members of the Capitol Press Corps.

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