By Ayesha K. Mustafaa
Interim Managing Editor
From the seat of the Governor’s office to the Commercial Appeal News to the feminist.org blog, the condolences and statements of admiration and remembrance for State Sen. Alice Harden (D-MS) continue to flow. She passed Thursday, Dec. 6, of an undisclosed lengthy illness.
As an African American woman to serve in the Mississippi State Senate, beginning in 1988, she left her mark on history. Her body will lie in repose at the State Capitol, Thursday, Dec. 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Gov. Phil Bryant issued a statement highlighting her nearly two and a half decades of service. “Having served in the Mississippi Senate for 24 years, Sen. Alice Harden was a pioneer for civil rights and a staunch supporter of public education. She served her constituents well and will certainly be missed. I had the pleasure to work with her during my term as lieutenant governor and was always impressed with her determination to stand for her beliefs,” the Governor stated.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said in his statement, “As a former teacher, Sen. Harden brought her passion for improving Mississippi’s schools and universities to the State Senate. She fought diligently for all Mississippi children to have an opportunity to receive a good education. Her dedication to public service will be missed.”
Longtime friend State Representative Alyce Clarke said, “We’ve lost a good woman. She was always a voice. When we needed a voice in the Senate or in the community, we knew Alice would be there … doing what she felt was in the best interests of her constituents.”
Harden was consistently described as a “champion for public education, workers’ rights and immigrants’ rights.” She wrote legislation that was approved requiring certified translators to be present in Mississippi courts. She also fought to gain pay raises for state employees.
She was a classroom teacher and educator and member of the Mississippi Association of Educations, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Women’s Political Network, National Council of Negro Women, The League of Women Voters, the National Conference of State Legislators, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, chaired the Southern Legislative Conference’s Education Committee and the MS Advisory Council to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and was a life member of the NAACP.
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at Black’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson. She will be funeralized at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Greater St. James Missionary Baptist Church, with burial in Cedar Lawn Cemetery.
Harden was born in Pike County April 17, 1948. She was an active member of St. James Baptist Church and was married to Dennis Labert Harden. She is survived by her husband and a daughter.