BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - This week, the history of a Bay St. Louis landmark will unfold through a series of photographs.
The 100 Men Hall is tackling a major project by asking those with any connection to the hall to come and share their stories in a unique way.
It’s said a picture is worth a thousand words, but rarely does anyone mention the one single moment captured by each click of a camera. It’s those moments captured this week that will be used to to unveil decades of history held within the four walls of the 100 Men Hall.
The hall was built in 1922 as a gathering place for the African-American community. When Rachel Dangermond took over as director, she noticed that had drastically changed.
“Every time I saw the audiences they were all white, like middle-aged white people, and I was wondering, where are the black people?” Dangermond said
She aims to find that answer through the 100 Men Hall People project, a way to tell the hall’s story through the stories of others.
“We wanted to bring that community back into a feeling of ownership here," Dangermond said.
By the end of the week, she hopes to have 365 stories to share, stories that are documented in words, and then come alive in front of Gus Bennett’s lens.
Bennett is a New Orleans photographer, well known for his New Orleans People Project. This project follows the same mold: telling a person’s story in what he calls one magical moment.
“I just tell people to have fun, don’t worry about what you think you see, because it’s going to be magical,” Bennett said.
His photos will be published once a day for a year and permanently displayed in the hall.
“I think I grow from this more than the people participating because I remember every story, and those stories become part of my DNA,” he said.
Every smile, laugh and split second frozen in time will come together to form the powerful narrative of a cultural centerpiece.
“This building tells that story, and the story is this,” Dangermond said. “That there was oppression and dark forces, but there was resilience and joy that happened here, and that the African-American community was able to not only survive but thrive here.”
Those with a connection to the 100 Men Hall interested in participating in the project can drop by the hall between now and Saturday, Feb. 16.