Stories captured by The Mississippi Link in 2013

By Ayesha K. Mustafaa


JacksonMayor-thumb-640xauto-8503Michelle Obama

During the year 2013, The Mississippi Link carried articles of historic relevance to its readers. Standing out are these headlines:

• Remembering the 1965 Lanier High School National Championship Basketball Team – lost in the turmoil of the times (MS Link Jan. 17-23, 2013):

… As the war over civil rights raged, few noticed a sports revolution in the small city of Jackson, Miss. There were seven skinny kids from Lanier High School, who dared to take on all comers.

On March 6, 1965, … at the buzzer, the Lanier High School Bulldogs prevailed 58 to 55 (against the Bears of Booker T. Washington High School of Suffolk, Va.) … to beat the team of the century and win the coveted National High School Basketball Championship, becoming “the best in the nation.”

They placed their national championship trophy in the Lanier High School trophy case where it set for 48 years forgotten … but no more. Jackson businessman Johnny Morrow demanded these men be recognized and on Wed., Jan. 23, 2013, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame gave recognition with Joe Usry Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram sponsoring championship rings to the 1965 team members.

• Mississippi’s Myrlie Evers-Williams made history at Obama’s 2nd inauguration; first woman, first layperson to deliver invocation (MS Link Jan. 24-30, 2013)

Mississippi’s own Myrlie Evers-Williams, 79, widow of slain Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers, was first woman and first layperson to give the invocation at a presidential inauguration. She did so Mon., Jan. 21, 2013, at the request of President Barack Obama’s inauguration planning committee.

Evers-Williams called upon those unique historical references that her experiences would engender…, marking the 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington.

She said, “One hundred and fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the March on Washington, we celebrate the spirit of our ancestors, which has allowed us to move from a nation of unborn hopes and a history of disenfranchised votes to today’s expression of a more perfect union….”

• Nine candidates vie for District 28 Mississippi Senate Seat (MS Link Jan. 24-30, 2013)

At a candidates’ forum held at New Horizon Church International, moderator June Hardwick (later in year named Municipal Judge for City of Jackson) posed collected questions that ranged from how the capital city is funded or lack thereof, candidates’ positions on charter schools, the close of the only abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, to issues on housing, welfare and child care.

The District 28 election was held Feb. 26, 2013, when Sollie B. Norwood became only elected state representative of the year, filling the seat vacant at the passing of Sen. Alice Harden. He was sworn in March 4, 2013.

• Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan brings Danny Glover to town (MS Link Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2013)

Danny Glover came to Tougaloo College Tuesday night, Jan. 29, 2013, to join with the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance (MSJA) along with political, religious and community leaders from across the state, to build a growing coalition of Nissan workers and religious, civic, student and community groups to expand Nissan workers’ rights to unionize.

International labor representatives attending included Vagner Freitas de Moraes, president of CUT (Central Unica dos Trabalhadores) – the largest trade union in Brazil, and Joao Cayres, the international affairs secretary of CUT.

• Christopher Epps sworn in as president of world’s largest correctional association; W.K. Kellogg Foundation opens regional office in Jackson (MS Link Feb. 7-13, 2013)

Story 1: Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher B. Epps was sworn in as the 102nd president of the American Correctional Association (ACA). He is a native of Tchula, Miss. The ACA was founded in 1870 with more than 20,000 members from 60 countries.  Epps will lead the organization for two years.

Story 2: The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) Fri., Feb. 1, 2013, launched the opening of the Foundation’s Jackson office, at Capital Towers, 125 S. Congress.

WKKF officials present were Sterling K. Speirn, president and CEO; La June Montgomery Tabron, executive vice president of operations and WKKF treasurer; and William Buster, director of WKKF’s Mississippi and New Orleans programs and who will live in Jackson.

• First African American, Dr. Rodney Bennett, confirmed president of University of Southern Mississippi; EF-4 rated tornado hits Hattiesburg and USM campus (MS Link Feb. 14-20, 2013)

Story 1: Feb. 7, 2013, Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning announced unanimous decision to name Dr. Rodney Bennett president of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Story 2: An EF-4 tornado struck Sun., Feb. 10, 2013 damaging several buildings on the Hattiesburg campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. The tornado caused extensive damage to six buildings on the campus. Gov. Phil Bryant, at his alma mata, said, “Unfortunately, we have more experience and are better qualified than anyone in the nation to deal with weather-related emergencies.”

• First Lady Michelle Obama uses first stop on Let’s Move anniversary to visit Clinton, Miss. (MS Link Feb. 28-March 6, 2013):

With the theme “Change is Happening,” First Lady Michelle Obama came to Clinton Wed., Feb. 27, 2013, the first stop on her anniversary tour with Let’s Move. She spent much of the day at Northside and Eastside Elementary School with students and teachers and addressed a select public gathering.

The First Lady was joined by TV personality Rachael Ray to highlight the new healthy school lunches that are now being served across the nation. Obama and Ray also hosted a cooking competition between school chefs to air on the Rachael Ray Show March 11, 2013.

• Thompson requests federal review of candidate’s death (MS Link March 7-13, 2013)

Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) issued statement regarding the death of Clarksdale (Coahoma County) native Marco McMillian, 34, candidate for mayor of Clarksdale and “Mississippi’s first openly gay, viable candidate for public office.”

Thompson asked “the FBI to review the circumstances and evidence of the case to determine whether a violation of federal law occurred.” Thompson described McMillian as “an aspiring community leader who exuded confidence and inspired potential.” Lawrence Reed, 22, was charged with McMillian’s murder. According to the family members, McMillian was beaten and burned.

• 300 Mississippi girls enter SEEK – a free Summer Engineering Experience for Kids; the great hailstorm of March 2013 (MS Link March 21-27, 2013)

Story 1: Females only – third and fifth graders, students of color from Jackson Public Schools and surrounding area have a friend in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Dr. Carl B. Mack, executive director of NSBE and a native Mississippian announced Wed., March 20, at New Hope Baptist Church that the first-come first-served three-week program is open to 300 females only and free of charge.

The hands-on engineering design curriculum developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers International will cost about $100,000 to implement and staff in Mississippi alone.

Story 2: It was the great hailstorm of 2013 that hit metro Jackson March 18, 2013, at 4 p.m. on a workday with tennis ball sized hail blanketing the area. Damage included dented car bodies, broken car windows, damaged home rooftops, home windows with the hail staying in yards for hours after the storm.

Auto body repair shops were swamped, including repairs for city vehicles caught outside and damaged too severely to be driven. Home and businessowners had to have all roofs inspected and lined up for needed repairs.

• Fallen officer Det. Eric T. Smith remembered in candlelight vigil (MS Link April 11-17, 2013)

Jackson Police Department Detective Eric T. Smith, 40, was shot to death Thurs., April 4, 2013, at 5:40 p.m. in an interrogation room inside the police department headquarters, at 327 E. Pascagoula St. A citywide vigil was held April 11 to commemorate the detective’s 18 years of service to the police department. Funeral services were held April 13 at the Athletic and Assembly Center at Jackson State University.

The preliminary investigation revealed that two individuals were fatally shot in the interrogation room. Smith was shot to death by Jeremy Powell, 23, a black male and murder suspect in the death of Christopher Alexander on April 1, 2013. Powell took his own life with a gunshot to the head.

• Hinds County District 2 supervisor passes; Mississippians respond to Boston Marathon’s tragic loss of life and injuries (MS Link April 18-24, 2013)

Story 1: Hon. Doug Anderson, Hinds County District 2 supervisor, passed Sat., April 13, at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson after complications following a heart attack and after years of declining health. An interim supervisor would be selected with a special election date set for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November 2013.

Story 2: Black Girls Run Jackson implemented a support run for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, where three were killed and 170 critically injured, most of them spectators near the finish line on Mon., April 15. The group held their first run April 16 at 6 p.m., starting at the Walter Payton Center on JSU’s campus. BGR ambassador Erin Pridgen led the run.

• Chokwe Lumumba the new face of Jackson, “One City, One Aim, One Destiny”; Remembering Medgar Evers who ‘loved Mississippi’ 50 years after his assassination (MS Link June 6-12, 2013)

Story 1: Chokwe Lumumba ran a successful Democratic mayoral campaign in the May 21, 2013, runoff against businessman Jonathan Lee, resulting in Lumumba as the frontrunner for the General Election, Tues., June 4. Lumumba garnered 86 percent of the votes (20,835) over independent candidate Richard “Chip” Williams, who came in with 8 percent (1,824) of the votes.

Lumumba moved to Jackson in 1988. He was city councilman of Ward 2 for four years and worked with organizations like the Jackson Human Rights Coalition to help pressure the State to retry the person who murdered Medgar Evers and to free the Scott sisters.

Story 2: Week of activities June 6-12, 2013 honoring Medgar Evers, an American Hero, began with a Resolution issued by the Mississippi State Senate “recognizing Wed., June 12, 2013 as International Day of Remembrance on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Evers and his life and legacy as an American Hero.”

• Native sons celebrate a native son; Alcorn State University unveils statue of Medgar Wiley Evers, alumnus of ’52 ( MS Link June 13-19, 2013)

Native sons Charles Evers and B.B. King shared a moment in memory of his brother and native son Medgar Evers at the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Tribute for the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute held at the Jackson Convention Complex, June 12, 2013.

Attending were Gov. Phil Bryant, NAACP president Ben Jealous, Rainbow PUSH founder Jesse Jackson Sr., TV show host Tavis Smiley, civil rights attorney Vernon Jarrett, along with Evers family members.

Thursday, June 13, Evers received a permanent place at the Alcorn State University’s Evers Village with the unveiling of a statue honoring the slain civil rights leader.

• Mayor Johnson gets in hotel for Jackson Convention Complex before leaving office; On National HIV Testing Day, Bishop Crudup takes AIDS Test in pulpit (MS Link June 27-July 3, 2013)

Story 1: The announced agreement from out-going Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., Tues., June 25, for a hotel to be built in the Jackson Convention Complex area, was presented to the Jackson Redevelopment Authority (JRA) Board  Wed., June 26, and passed with a unanimous vote.

Johnson said the hotel deal was for $60 million and called for a full service high quality franchise hotel to be built directly across the street from the Jackson Convention Complex at 105 E. Pascagoula St. It will contain about 305 guests rooms, a full service restaurant, a ballroom, meeting rooms and first class three-level parking capacity with lighting and landscaping.

Story 2: Bishop Ronnie Crudup takes an AIDS test before his congregation Sun., June 23, establishing a leadership role in a new citywide initiative called “Mississippi Faith in Action” and promoting National HIV Testing Day, June 27, 2013, part of an initiative at Brown University.

As of Dec. 31, 2012, there were 10,254 Mississippians living with HIV disease; 25 percent or one in four were residents of Hinds County (2,592 people).

• In the aftermath of Trayvon’s murder, Zimmerman set free; reactions locally and around the nation (MS Link July 18-24, 2013)

NAACP launched a petition reaching one million in three days asking the U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to have the U.S. Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of the murder of the black 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin in Florida.

Proclaiming “This is not over,” national protests in 100 cities were called for by Al Sharpton; Jackson protests were held in front of the downtown Federal Building. Others called for a “more valuable type of protest including a look at black-on-black murders.”

• Jackson City Council unanimously approve new police and fire chiefs (MS Link July 25-31, 2013)

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba’s choices for Jackson’s Chief of Police and Chief of Fire Departments were unanimously confirmed by the City Council Thursday, July 18, to a standing room only filled council chambers.

Jackson Police Department Chief Lindsey Horton and its Fire Department Chief Willie Owens confirmations were delayed earlier, so that all Council members could be present to cast their votes at the Council’s request.

• The Jackson Zoo needs everyone’s help (MS Link Aug. 15-21, 2013)

From the Charles Evers radio talk show to the August 12 Monday night meeting at Voice of Calvary Ministries, conversations have flowed about the Jackson Zoo’s imminent closing or relocation outside of West Jackson.

The issue made its way to the City Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13, when State Senator Sollie Norwood (Dem.-District 28) asked the council members to allocate additional funding to help save the Jackson Zoo.

• Lumumba presents 2013-14 city budget: “We can no longer kick the can down the road” (MS Link Aug. 22-28, 2013)

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Monday, Aug. 19, introduced his 2013-14 budget, saying, “We can no longer keep kicking the can down the road. We must grow, not shrink.” He then explained why he needed a 43.3 percent increase over last year’s, proposing a $502.5 million budget.

Pointing to the dire needs to address Jackson’s infrastructure problems, the mayor addressed the EPA’s consent decree that mandates $400 million to be spend on water and sewer upgrades over a 17-year period. He cited 1,200 miles of streets and roads that need $20 million to maintain.

• 50th anniversary of “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” panelists who attended the March in 1963 (MS Link Aug. 29 – Sept. 4, 2013)

Among six panelists hosted by One Voice Mississippi State Conference, Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Inc. and Mississippi Chapter of the NAACP, five were in Washington D.C. for the 1963 March – Ineva May-Pittman, J. B. Harrington, Frankye Adams Johnson, Louise Marshall, and Rev. Dr. John Cameron.

• 14 candidates vie for two seats on Hinds County Board of Supervisors (MS Link Sept. 19-25, 2013)

Two seats came open earlier in the year when Hinds County District 2 longtime supervisor Doug Anderson died in April and District 4 supervisor Phil Fisher was elected as mayor of Clinton. Running were nine Democrats for Dist. 2; three Democrats for Dist. 4; two Republicans for Dist. 4. Primaries were held Sept. 24 and the Special Election Nov. 5.

• Civil Rights Museum groundbreaking draws Mississippi governors with Medgar Evers’ widow (MS Link Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2013)

Gov. Phil Bryant, along with former Governors William Winter and Haley Barbour, joined Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers, on Thurs., Oct. 24, at the site of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Mississippi History. The 200,000-square-foot museums will be financed partially by the state, which has committed to $40 million.

• Hinds County Board of Supervisors Special Election Results (MS Link Nov. 7-13, 2013)

Nov. 5, 2013, Hinds County District 2 Supervisor winner Darrell McQuirter (D) won 76 percent of the votes over Independent and interim supervisor Alphonso Hunter. Hinds County District 4 Supervisor winner Tony Greer (R) won 70 percent of the votes over Democrat James Baker.

• Operation Shoestring features Lumumba, Barbour, Tonkel in “Conversation About Community” Luncheon (MS Link Nov. 21-26, 2013)

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, Operation Shoestring brought together leaders from polar ends to sit down and “hold a public and frank conversation about solutions to community issues,” at its signature annual fund-raiser luncheon.

Panelists were former Governor Haley Barbour, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Pastor of Wells Church Keith Tonkel with Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald, Southern Region Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, as moderator.

The Mississippi Link Thanksgiving edition interviews renowned Pastor Jerry Young of 100-year-old New Hope Church (MS Link Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2013)

Dr. Jerry Young responded to questions on anniversary of the 100-year-old New Hope Church, on faith and receiving “the call,” life growing up in the Mississippi Delta, Black AIDS Day, and the possibility of becoming the president for the National Baptist Convention. He would then be the first president of the organization to reside in Mississippi.

• U.S. first black president calls S.A. first black president Mandela the ‘last great liberator of 20th century’; Dr. Cedrick Gray to JPS bus drivers: “We will work this out”; new faith-based initiative against crime launched in wake of Destinee Ford killing (MS Link Dec. 12-18, 2013)

Story 1: U.S. first black president, Barack Obama, described Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black elected president, “the last great liberator of the 20th century” and thanked the grieving nation for sharing their beloved former leader with the rest of the world.

Story 2: In an exclusive interview with The Mississippi Link, Dec. 11, Dr. Cedrick Gray, superintendant for Jackson Public Schools, discussed how the district got to the place it finds itself with transportation workers on strike, asking for better pay and the ability to guard themselves from disruptive students.

Story 3: Jackson city councilman Tony Yaber gathered with some leaders of the community and various religious organizations at city hall on Dec. 6 to announce the formation of a new faith-based alignment and citywide plan to engage the community in addressing crime in Jackson.

A day after the tragic shooting death of 15-year-old Wingfield High School student Destinee Ford, Yarber revealed the strategy of Jackson’s Faith-Based Alignment Against Crime, first by “leaving your guns at the door.”

…. Thus ended 2013! Thanks to all of The Mississippi Link writers and contributors for making 2013 a very successful year.