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Bond honored with Thad Cochran Humanities Achievement Award at 2022 NLCC
WESSON – Kathleen McClain Bond of Natchez was recently honored with the Thad Cochran Humanities Achievement Award during the 33rd annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.
First established in 2009, the Thad Cochran Humanities Achievement Award honors the late Senator Thad Cochran, long-time Republican Senator for Mississippi, for his support and tireless efforts on behalf of the humanities in Mississippi. He was a driving force in supporting the National Endowment for the Humanities, The Mississippi Humanities Council, and the Mississippi Arts Commission. He was instrumental in the success of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration from its inception and was always an active member of the NLCC steering committee.
Each year, the co-chairman and awards committee choose a worthy candidate from the state of Mississippi who, like Senator Cochran, has dedicated years of time, talent, and expertise to the field of humanities in Mississippi and the surrounding region.
Bond was born in Vicksburg, Miss. and graduated from Vicksburg High School in 1975. She earned a bachelor’s degree in art history and studio art from the University of Mississippi in 1979. After graduation, she was awarded a museum studies internship by the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden – a part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Upon returning to Mississippi, she took a job with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson.
She married in 1980 and moved to Cleveland, Mississippi where her son Buck was born. The next few years were her most prolific as a studio artist – working mainly in pastels. When Buck started four-year-old kindergarten she began graduate school in history at Delta State University with an assistantship in the University Archives. While completing her master’s thesis on Mississippi Impressionist painter Kate Freeman Clark, she began teaching social studies at Bayou Academy. She subsequently wrote a catalog essay for an exhibit of Clark’s work at the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and a chapter for a volume on Mississippi women.
Bond applied to the Ph.D. program at Louisiana State University and was awarded an Alumni Fellowship in 1990. There she met fellow alumni fellows Ed Bond from Virginia and Peter Buttross from Natchez. While at LSU, she worked in the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History. She completed the course work for the Ph.D. in U.S. History and an M.A. in Art History, then left in 1993 to accept a museum job with Natchez National Historical Park, a new unit of the National Park Service. She and Ed Bond married in New Orleans in 1998.
Between 1993 and 2005, Bond held several positions in cultural resource management. She worked closely with scholars on the foundational planning documents for the park, performed operational assessments at other national parks, and provided technical assistance to non-NPS museums and historic houses. In 1996, she took her one-day workshop on historic preservation and care for historic furnishings on the road to the seven states of the Lower Mississippi Delta Region – for which she received an award of recognition from the American Association for State and Local History.
Bond became Acting Superintendent of Natchez National Historical Park in 2005 and was named permanent Superintendent in 2006. In 2018 she served for four months as the Acting Chief of Cultural Resources for all the national parks in the Southeast Region.
When Senator Thad Cochran in 2005 responded to Ser Boxley’s pleas for attention to the Forks of the Road slave market site by funding a feasibility study, Bond coordinated work on the study. Once the site was determined to meet criteria for addition to the national park, she worked with Senator Cochran’s office in drafting the necessary legislation, which passed in 2017.
Bond has collaborated with the Historic Natchez Foundation (HNF) in many different ways – from numerous Historic Natchez Conferences to the rescue efforts for books and furnishings after the 2002 Arlington fire. She and Mimi Miller served as co-chairs of the brochure & kiosk subgroup of the Natchez Trails Project which produced all the downtown walking trails markers as well as those along St. Catherine Street, and they presented a regional disaster recovery workshop after Hurricane Katrina. The HNF opened their doors to museum collections from Jean Lafitte National Park & Preserve which had to be refugeed out of New Orleans, and Bond subsequently developed a Cooperative Agreement to establish a permanent NPS multi-park museum storage space inside the building. She worked with HNF to fund a report analyzing the condition and needs of Natchez Museum Houses, and she is working with them to develop an archaeological field school headquarters through a historic lease in the Stietenroth House at the Fort Rosalie site.
Bond has served on the Tourism Council and the Education Committee of the Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce and the Natchez Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee. She worked with Darrell White to create an African American tourism brochure for Natchez, and she oversaw the creation of the comprehensive Natchez history exhibits at the Natchez Visitor Center. With a grant from the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation and another grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Bond partnered with the Mississippi Heritage Trust to produce a professional assessment of African American tourist sites in Natchez.
During the Civil War Sesquicentennial 2011-2015, Bond served as Chair of the Southeast regional steering committee for the National Park Service. She oversaw the “No More Silence at Second Creek” symposium on the planned 1861 slave uprising near Natchez and its violent suppression. She has served on the Advisory Board for the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, and she planned the 2013 series of Civil War-related movies filmed in Natchez which were presented with commentary by retired Co-Lin history professor Jim Wiggins.
Bond served on the Executive Committee for the Natchez Tricentennial in 2016, and as vice-chair of the Ethnic & Social History Committee that planned more than 40 weekly lectures in the “Natchez Legends & Lore” series. The other vice-chair, Betty Cade, brought her concerns that the 50th anniversary of the Parchman Ordeal should be recognized in 2015 ahead of the Tricentennial, and Bond organized a day-long symposium held at Holy Family Catholic Church. Her briefing statement on the subject to the Board of Aldermen ultimately led to a formal apology by the City for the treatment of these peaceful protestors. Under Bond’s leadership, as the culmination of the Tricentennial commemorations, Fort Rosalie opened to the public on its 300th anniversary – August 3, 2016.
Within the National Park Service, Bond has served on the national Museum Management Program Council, the national Cultural Resource Advisory Council, and the regional Southeast Cultural Resource Advisory Council. In 2014, she was named Superintendent of the Year for the Southeast Region.
Since the City’s donation of the Natchez Visitor Center to the National Park Service in July 2021, Bond has been engaged in bringing its operations into compliance with federal law and policy, and in planning for the more than nine million dollars in deferred maintenance – as well as new exhibits, film, and signage. She is currently working closely with the National Park Foundation and the NPS Lands Office in Atlanta to bring parcels at the Forks of the Road slave market site into park ownership as well.
Kathleen and Ed Bond are longtime members of Trinity Episcopal Church, and together they developed the Mississippi response to Resolution A-123 from the 2006 General Convention that instructed each diocese to report on how the church had benefitted from and been complicit in the institution of slavery. She has served on the diocesan racial reconciliation task force and has led the local branch of Mission Mississippi. She teaches adult formation classes at Trinity and is working on a book of essays about the stained-glass windows in the church.
Kathleen and Ed are avid readers, cat-lovers, cooks, birdwatchers, gardeners, opera afficionados, and beach-walkers. She looks forward to resuming her painting career in retirement and enjoying Natchez as a forever home. Photo by Scarlett Hart,Co-Lin Public Relations.
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