Tommy Johnson was an influential delta blues singer who lived between 1896 and 1956. Anyway, as with many blues legends his influence was not really appreciated until many years later. The story is that the road to his grave site has disappeared over the years so there is no way to get to his grave to place the headstone or to allow visitors/pilgrims easy access. Anyway, the foundation is selling t-shirts to try and raise money to get the headstone placed and the road reclaimed. Anyway, they don’t have online ordering or anything but if you go to the foundation page and email or call their phone number tell them you want a shirt i’m sure they’ll sort it out.
and here’s the gory details from the press release.
THREE YEARS AFTER DEDICATION. —- MISSISSIPPI TOUT$ BLUES HERITAGE BUT TAKES NO ACTION TO AID FAMILY.
Three years after The Mount Zion Memorial Fund and the family of Tommy Johnson unveiled a headstone memorial in Crystal Springs, in 2001, the 600 lb., beautifully engraved, granite slab still sits in the Crystal Springs Library, miles from the cemetery where Johnson is buried.
The Copiah County Board of Supervisors, charged by law with maintaining the Warm Springs Methodist Cemetery because of its official historic status, has denied all access to the cemetery where dozens of African American gravesites are located, by refusing to reclaim a road which was “given” to a local farmer under dubious legal circumstances.
For the last three years the Mount Zion Memorial Fund has worked with Vera Johnson Collins, Tommy Johnsoné─˘s niece, through a series of legal roadblocks and delays and the State of Mississippi, fully aware of the situation, has done absolutely nothing.
The “Year of the Blues” has come and gone, and the Tommy Johnson Memorial, paid for by Ms. Bonnie Raitt, has remained on display at the Public Library, in mute testimony to the true history of Mississippié─˘s racial nullification, failure and neglect.
The Mount Zion Memorial Fund and the family of Tommy Johnson is asking that any and all groups or individuals who would like to support the effort to place Tommy Johnsoné─˘s headstone on his grave and to re-open this historic cemetery please write Governor Haley Barbour at P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
And demand that the State of Mississippi intervene immediately to correct this moral wrong and to finally do something honorable to get right with the Blues.
Skip Henderson Butch Ruth
For more information please contact:
Skip Henderson, P.O. Box 3872, New Orleans, La. 70177 or email: mysterycity [at] earthlink.net
or Butch Ruth at: butch7480 [at] yahoo.com