Roscoe Barnes, lll is a man of many interests and profound intellectual curiosity. This is evidenced by the array of topics he has researched and written about in his long career as a minister, writer and journalist.
Beginning in May of last year, Barnes turned the primary focus of his gifts to the history of the city of Natchez, when he accepted the position he now holds as Cultural Heritage Tourism Manager for the Natchez tourism marketing organization Visit Natchez. In this role Barnes is, of course, seeking to promote tourism in the historic southwest Mississippi city, but at the same time, he is trying to help widen the lens through which that history is viewed.
Until recently, Natchez tourism has focused on the city’s numerous historic homes and its annual “Pilgrimage” tours. In recent years, however, the city has made progress toward making its Black history prominent, as well. The Forks of the Road is a memorial at the site of one of the largest slave markets in the South. Concord Quarters, a Black-owned bed and breakfast, is located in a building that formerly housed the enslaved people who served at Concord, the grand house that once stood before the building. The upcoming U.S. Colored Troops Monument honors the Black servicemen who fought for the United States Army and Navy in the Civil War.
As Barnes told Mississippi Free Press writer Dustin Cardon for Cardon’s February story on Natchez’s reckoning with its racial history: “Today we are still learning from local historians and academics in order to understand the full story of Natchez. We want to find and promote the truth with people in and outside of the city because it’s a story that needs to be told.”
The Indianola, Miss., native has been a Christian minister since age 17, pursuing a theological education that culminated in a PhD in Church History and Polity from the University of Pretoria in South Africa. In the course of his ministerial career, Barnes has served as a pastor, evangelist and prison chaplain. He has delved into the academic side of his theological pursuits with extended research and writings in the area of church history, with a particular focus on F. F. Bosworth, an influential figure in American Pentecostalism in the early to mid-20th century.
Barnes’ academic interests are not limited to the theological. He has done extensive research and writing on the life and works of literary and civil rights figures such as Ernest Hemingway and Mississippi-born civil rights activist and author Anne Moody. In addition to his academic writings, Barnes has written numerous books on topics such as writing, public relations and nonprofit fundraising.
Barnes also had a successful career as a journalist, doing award-winning work as a reporter for newspapers in Mississippi and Pennsylvania, and as a columnist for several national publications.
To hear Barnes discuss what he and others are learning about “the full story of Natchez” with Donna Ladd and Kimberly Griffin, tune in to MFP Live this Thursday, March 31, at 6 p.m. on Facebook or YouTube.