CLARKSDALE — The Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame project is over in Clarksdale.
Organizer LaMont Robinson has posted on his website that the hall of fame will be located in Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee.
Local supporters and city officials, who put time, effort and money into an induction ceremony in June, tell The Clarksdale Press Register they thought Robinson had financial underwriters supporting his project.
Last November, Robinson announced the hall of fame would be in Clarksdale. Then in May, he said he planned to have a satellite hall of fame in Clarksdale with the main museum in Detroit.
The City of Clarksdale spent $10,000 on an induction ceremony for the hall of fame in June, and at the time Robinson expressed frustration that no big donors signed up to underwrite the event. The Coahoma County Board of Supervisors and the Clarksdale Public Utilities board declined to get involved with the project.
Nathan Duff, publisher of The Clarksdale Press Register and an early advocate of the project, said there were “misguided expectations” all around, including himself.
“Robinson indicated to us initially that he had pledges of financial support, but apparently those were tied to Detroit and Memphis, and when he announced that he wanted to put the museum here, those pledges disappeared,” he said.
Duff said Robinson’s early promises were premature.
“The announcement that the museum was coming to Clarksdale was made prematurely. You can’t blame Robinson for getting caught up in the excitement about the potential of Clarksdale, but he should have held off until the realities were explored a bit more thoroughly,” said Duff.
Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett said the city got the impression Robinson had some support and backers and he was in charge of finding the best spot.
“We didn’t have all the details, and pretty soon it looks like he’s expecting us to do all the fundraising and do the lion’s share of the work,” Luckett said.
Luckett said Clarksdale could not have afforded to build the museum and hall of fame for Robinson.
“I am afraid it’s just not realistic, at least not with those expectations on the city,” he said.
Luckett said there’s virtually no way Robinson’s museum can work in Clarksdale now.
“I don’t see a lot of potential now, given the water under the bridge that we have seen,” Luckett said.