By ROSCOE BARNES
Special for The Natchez Democrat
NATCHEZ – Robert Pernell wants visitors to get more from their visit to the Proud to Take a Stand monument on the corner of Jefferson and North Canal streets.
As president of the Proud to Take a Stand Monument Committee, he wants them to have an experience that is not just informative, but moving, engaging and interactive.
Thanks to a new QR code, his wishes are possible as visitors can now have a virtual reality experience of the history of civil rights present on the site. The experience is made possible using the TimeLooper mobile application, Xplore-AR.
“In virtual terms, the technology transports the viewer to 1965, where they can see the story firsthand,” said Pernell. “This is storytelling on a new level. Now people can experience the story on the spot, or they can visualize it using this virtual reality technology. “
By simply scanning the QR code shown on a small sign posted on the site in February, the visitor has access to the Xplore-AR app.
Lance Harris, a commissioner and past president of Visit Natchez, who helped bring the experience to life, explained that the virtual reality experience is best viewed and optimized with a set of Google Glasses or other display devices, such as Oculus.
“Visit Natchez is proud to have partnered with the Pride Committee to take a stand to create a compelling and unique experience that provides insight into an important chapter in our community’s history,” said Harris. “This project would not have been possible without the Mississippi Tourism Recovery Fund, enacted under the CARES Act. From what I have gathered, everyone is very happy and excited about it.”
The Proud to Take a Stand Monument is a 6-foot tall granite structure that honors Natchez-Adams County citizens who were unfairly jailed in October 1965 for defending basic civil rights and voting rights. It was completed in October 2019.
The monument is engraved with over 500 names, according to Pernell. Many of those listed are names of young men and women who were forcibly shipped to the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman in October 1965, where they were humiliated, punished, and mistreated for several days. They became known as survivors of “The Parchman Ordeal”.
Mayor Dan Gibson expressed appreciation for the monument and the new virtual reality feature. “We are so grateful to have this important monument in our city, making sure that such a significant event in our history is properly honored,” he said. “The new TimeLooper feature will now take a visit to this monument to the next level.”
How to see the experience
The TimeLooper app allows visitors to see the full story of this historic event using a mobile device. Access is achieved by scanning the QR code in the lower right corner of the sign. The scan takes users to Timelooper.com to download the Xplore app. Users can follow the steps below.
1. After downloading, select the title “Parchman Ordeal”. A screen will appear with the option “View in AR”. Click on this option.
2. Follow the instructions for “Scan your table, floor or yard”. As the mobile device is scanned and moved, a geographic image (a map) will appear on the screen. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see directions for “Tap the highlighted area to place the AR platform”.
3. Next, you will be asked to “Start Xploring” and to “pinch image to zoom”.
4. You will see a message to “Activate the content by bumping the device on a pin”. The “pin” will appear as a thin vertical white line with a circle at the top and extending from the geographic image.
5. Using your finger, simply touch the pin and images of the Parchman Ordeal will appear, along with the narrator’s voice telling the story of this critical moment in the civil rights movement.