“Each year the Committee for King and the City of Tupelo, in a cooperative effort- along with other organizations, host a 4-day community-wide celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As a result of these events, we offer scholarships to deserving high school seniors, provide educational and cultural enrichment to our community as well as bring citizens of all races together to appreciate our likeness and understand our differences. As a result of these 4 days of events, our average overall attendance is about 2500 people., the largest MLK celebration in MS.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2019 EVENTS
Theme: “Seeking Love, Compassion, Respect & Racial Harmony for All People”
FRIDAY, JANUARY 18TH – 6:00 P.M. APOLLO NIGHT
Tupelo Civic Auditorium (Tupelo Middle School)
Free Pizza for the Youth
*Drill & Drama Teams *Exhibitions *Entertainment
MCs: Stan Allen and “Cee Cee” Jackson
Sponsors: Tupelo 2000 & AT&T
SATURDAY, JANUARY 19TH – 7:00 P.M. BLACK-TIE BANQUET
Summit Center, 852 N Gloster, Tupelo, MS
Tickets $30 Per Person
MC: Dr. Cathy Grace
Speaker: Dr. Beverly Hogan, President Tougaloo College
Community Service Award: Team TOYOTA, MS
Image Award: Mr. Ollie Collins, Jr.
Sponsored by Committee for King & City of Tupelo
All events are free, except the Banquet, and are open to the General Public.
For more details call 662-231-3193 or 662-416-7660
SUNDAY, JANUARY 20TH – 2:30 P.M. COMMEMORATIVE SERVICE
Tupelo Civic Auditorium
MC: Mr. Eddie Prather, Tupelo Schools Board of Trustees
Speaker: Dr. Robert J. Picou, Superintendent Tupelo Public Schools District
Drill Team Performance, MLK Community Choir, MSU Black Voices
Drum Major Award Recipient: Honorable Shelton Shannon, Mayor City of Plantersville
Special Appearance by Marcus Dupree, Former Professional Football Player
Sponsors: Committee for King & City of Tupelo
MONDAY, JANUARY 21ST DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. NATIONAL HOLIDAY
MOTORCADE: VF Mall at 11:00 a.m. en route to St. Paul Christian Life Center
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION: St. Paul Christian Life Center at 12 Noon
Scholarship Awards Entertainment by: Geno Jones and Focus
Speaker: Rev. Randy Jones, Pastor St. Paul UM Church
Sponsor: Modern Beauticians
DR. CATHY GRACE
Dr. Cathy Grace is currently the Co-Director of the Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning at the University of Mississippi. Dr. Grace is the founding director of the Family Resource Center, now known as Families First and has worked with school districts here and across the state. Over her 45 years as an educator, Dr. Grace has been a first-grade teacher, directed the implementation of public kindergarten in the state, served on the faculty of Mississippi Valley State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and retired from Mississippi State University as Professor Emerita of the School of Education. She has raised over 30 million dollars for early childhood education initiatives in the state and has worked with state and national policymakers on issues impacting young children and their families. Dr. Grace worked at the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington as the national director of early childhood education and upon her return home, she directed the Monroe County Early Learning Collaborative, one of the first state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. Dr. Grace has been the recipient of a number of awards, but the one closest to her heart is the Winter-Reed Partnership Award given in recognition of her work in furthering early childhood education in the state.
DR. BEVERLY WADE HOGAN – PRESIDENT OF TOUGALOO COLLEGE
Beverly Wade Hogan has served as President at Tougaloo College since May 2002. She is the 13th president and first woman to lead this historic institution. She has a long and distinguished career as a public administrator, educator, community leader and humanitarian. Prior to her college presidency, Hogan had more than twenty-five years of executive level management experience which shaped her worldview and understanding of diverse issues. Her work as a mental health professional, government official, adjunct instructor in administrative law, leadership and public policy, college administrator, her public speeches, her public works, and her community service address issues of economic and social justice, civil democracy and racial and gender equity. She has been a Toll Fellow with the Council of State Governments and a Public Scholar with the Kettering Foundation. She was also affiliated with the German Marshall Fund to study employment and training programs in West Germany, Denmark, and Sweden.
Under her leadership at Tougaloo, new undergraduate degree programs in mass communications, hotel and hospitality management, and religious studies, as well as two graduate degree programs, have been added. A new Honors Program, the Center for Undergraduate Research, the Center for International Studies and Global Change and the Institute for the Study of Modern Day Slavery have been established. Significant technological improvements have been made, including campus-wide connectivity, smart classrooms, wireless networks, and the installation of an integrated information management system. Campus renovations, the repurposing, and renovation of the L. Zenobia Coleman Library and the construction of the new Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Research Center have transformed the living and learning environment.
An engaged citizen, Hogan serves on the board for a myriad of non-profit organizations, community foundations, and corporations. She has also served on the board of directors for various higher education organizations, including the Council of Independent Colleges, National Association for Independent Colleges and Universities and NAFEO. She served on President Obama’s Board of Advisors for HBCUs, the Advisory Council for the National Institutes of Health/National Heart Blood Lung Institute, and the Department of Defense’s National Multidisciplinary Committee. She is currently the Chairperson of the Advisory Board for the HBCU Capital Financing Program and serves on UNCF’s Corporate Board of Directors.
A practitioner and scholar, Hogan has written and published several professional articles, including “A Dissonance Analysis of the Vietnam War”; “Comparable Worth: The Issue of Pay Equity”; “Public Policy Implications for HIV-AIDS in the Workplace”; “Higher Education and Civic Responsibility”; “Jobs and Economic Growth” and is a contributing author for a textbook published in 2008, Leadership and Public Service, Race and Gender.
Hogan holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Tougaloo College, a master degree in public policy and administration from Jackson State University with graduate study in clinical psychology, and further doctoral study at Fielding Graduate University in human and organization development. She has done additional study at Harvard University and Oxford University in Oxford, England. She is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Brown University and Rust, Wiley and Benedict Colleges.
She is married to Marvin and they have two adult sons and two daughters-in-law and seven grandchildren.
LEADERSHIP TEAM – ORMELLA CUMMINGS, PH.D.
Ormella Cummings, Ph.D., serves as the Chief Strategy Officer and facilitates the Evidence-based
Planning Process (EPP) for North Mississippi Health Services by working collaboratively with senior leaders, departments and various entities to develop and deploy strategic initiatives. Her responsibilities include examining qualitative and quantitative data to identify strategically relevant trends that promote long-term organizational performance and sustainability and monitoring community relations throughout NMHS’ 24-county service area.
Cummings, who joined NMHS in 2004, has a Ph.D. in educational and counseling psychology from the University of Mississippi. Her certifications include designations as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and as a Certified Professional Coach through the International Coach Federation and Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching.
EDDIE M. PRATHER
Eddie Prather retired from the Mississippi public school system after serving in several positions in several districts over thirty years. Eddie began his administrative career as an assistant principal in Senatobia school district. He later became principal at Pearl high school in Pearl MS. He retired as superintendent of the Okolona public school district. Presently he serves on the Tupelo public school district board of Trustee. He is part owner of an Educational consultant company. Eddie graduated from Falkner high school in Falkner MS, he attended Northeast Mississippi Community college. He earned his Bachelor degree from Mississippi Valley State University, in Itta Bena MS. He earned his Master degree and work toward his Doctoral at Mississippi State University. Eddie is married to Priscilla Riley Prather of Tupelo MS. She is a retired school teacher. They have two children, Latalia Beamer of Brandon MS. And Eddie Jr. of Charlotte, NC, one granddaughter. Eddie is a member of New Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Tupelo Ms.
DR. ROB PICOU
After serving 20 years in Alaska as both a principal and superintendent and overseeing radical changes in the education environment, Dr. Rob Picou sought change on a personal level. Not a career change. Just a change of scenery. Following a unanimous decision by the board of trustees, Picou was formally introduced as the superintendent of the Tupelo Public School District back in April, replacing Dr. Gearl Loden.
A native of New Orleans, he understands the landscape of public education not only in Mississippi but the South in general. Yet, he also recognizes each school district is different and the approach to improvement is not a one-size-fits-all mandate. Sweeping changes from the onset, however, wasn’t his intention. In his first 100 days at the helm, Picou, who received his Ph.D. from Southern Miss, his master’s from Tulane and his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Orleans, spent a majority of his time evaluating and observing all 14 of the district’s schools. During that time, he pinpointed areas that needed immediate resources while beginning the process of bringing in new educational models to better serve the 7,000-plus students. He also discovered while the numbers showcased an increase in the African-American enrollment over the pasts five years, it wasn’t reflected in the number of students enrolled in the accelerated classes. Immediately, he identified increased African-American participation in advanced classes as a priority and devised a team to begin work on increasing numbers to better reflect the population. He faced a similar situation in Alaska and was successful in seeing an upward trend.
Picou, who began his educational career as an English teacher in New Orleans for eight years, also uncovered an alarming number of students at Tupelo High School who were behind academically at least two years. It was then the new PACE program (Positive Alternatives For Continuing Education) was launched at the middle school in partnership with the high school. Results were nearly immediate as several of the 15 pilot students found themselves back at the high school after just two months. Similar results were seen with CHAMPS, a highly-successful model for pre-K through fifth-grade classrooms focusing on preventing misbehavior while encouraging responsible behavior through a viable classroom management plan that is proactive, positive and instructional. In comparison to a year ago, discipline referrals are down nearly 34 percent.
Other areas he’s looking to expand is for Tupelo to become a District of Innovation, developing a Middle College in conjunction with ICC and overhauling the Fillmore Center to make it a true alternative school rather than just a punishment school. In all areas, he’s involving every sector of the Tupelo community for input to keep in theme with his One Single Heartbeat philosophy.
Prior to his move to Tupelo, Picou was a principal for 11 years in Alaska, executive director of instruction for three years and superintendent his last six years at the Lower Yukon School District in Western Alaska and the Bering Strait School District in the northwest corner of the state. In his three year-stint at Bering Strait, he saw the graduation rate rise from 46 percent to 73 percent. Prior to his time in Alaska, he was an English teacher in New Orleans for eight years. Dr. Picou, who also served in the Marines, is married to his wife, Jodi. They have two sons, Will (13) and Cole (10).
• Born to Sanders and Lavada Shannon
• Married to Karen Cobb Shannon former of Red Hill Community for 42 years.
• Have 2 sons Emery Shannon ( Heather Grove); Sherrod Shannon ( Ashley Watkins Shannon).
• 5 Grandchildren: Emery III; Landon; Braden; Sherrod II and Ean Shannon.
• Siblings Barbara Armstrong, Sextus Shannon, Adell Shannon, and Winston Shannon.
• Attended and graduated from North Plantersville Elementary in 1968.
• Attended Plantersville Jr. High in 1968- 69.
• Attended George Washington Carver High School in 1970-71.
• Attend and Graduated Tupelo High School 1971-72. Graduated with honors.
• Attended and Graduated from ICC 1972-74.
• Graduated from Mississippi State University, with a Degree in Music Education emphasis in Piano.
• Taught at Armstrong Jr. High and Suddeth Elementary School in Starkville.
• Worked at Lee County Extension 1977 as a 4-H Agent for 34 years.
• Served as Lee County Multi-Purpose Center for the Elderly for 10 years as Director.
• Member of Three Rivers Council on Aging Board of Directors for the Elderly for 10 years.
• Will serve his second term as Lee County 4-H Council Advisory President in 2019.
• Served as Alderman for the Town of Plantersville 2015 to 2017.
• Elected as Mayor for the Town of Plantersville in 2017 to present.
• Member of Mississippi Municipal League since 2017.
• Member of North Mississippi Mayor Association.
• Vice- Chairperson of Lee County Council of Government in 2019.
• Received 4-H Agent Award in 2005, Mississippi State Extension Service Outstanding Leadership.
• Elected Pianist – Director at New Zion Baptist Church Plantersville in 1968 for a total of 50 years.
Served the Following: New Bethel Baptist, Plantersville, MS; St. Paul Baptist Church Amory Ms; Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Belden, MS; Whitehill Baptist Church, Tupelo, MS; Rising Star Baptist Church Tupelo MS; Mt. Pisgah United Methodist Church, Okolona MS; Interim Part Time Musician for First Baptist Plantersville, MS.’
• Serve as Plantersville Churches Pianist for Community Revival.
• Served as Director of Music for Springhill District Association and Congress for 20 years.
• Served as Director of Music for General Progressive State Convention 25 years.
• Playing for Adult Choir at New Zion and have members who are serving 50 years.
• Taught Private Piano Lessons for 45 years.
• Played or countless Weddings and Funerals in the area.
• Served as MLK Musician for 30 years, receiving an award and still serve when needed.
• Received Award for Musician of the year in 1990 from Lee County Nation Council of Negro Women.
• Volunteer at Nursing Home and Assistant Living homes play if for the patients in the Tupelo and Plantersville.
When Marcus Dupree played football for the Philadelphia, Mississippi Tornadoes, his play united the racially divided city. Dupree was one the most highly recruited high school football players in the history of American football, whose phenomenal athletic speed and agility were often compared to Jim Brown and Earl Campbell. While at Philadelphia High, Dupree broke Herschel Walker’s high school touchdown record scoring a total of 87. As a freshman in 1979, for the Philadelphia Tornadoes, Dupree was named Best Offensive Player, Most Valuable Player, All-Mid Mississippi Conference, and Player of the Year in the Mid-Mississippi Conference. He was the Player of the year in 1980 and 1981. Dupree gained state-wide and national attention and was selected for the Prep All-America football squad, the Parade Magazine All-America High School Football Team, Football Player of the Year by the Mississippi Sports Writers Association, Mid-MS Conference, Playboy All-American Team, All-South Team, and All-Conference Team. He was also named as “Face in the Crowd” for Sports Illustrated. While Dupree was still in high school, the flurry of interest from every major football program in the nation, inspired the brilliant Southern author Willie Morris to write a book about Dupree’s nationally publicized college recruitment titled, The Courting of Marcus Dupree.
Dupree committed to the University of Oklahoma in 1982. During his freshman year, he was named Big 8 “Newcomer of the Year”. Dupree was also named to the AP All-Big Eight first team, and earned a spot on UPI’s All-Big Eight second team. Sports Illustrated featured Marcus on the cover in 1983 and his outstanding running plays were often the topic of nightly national news broadcasts. His elusiveness prompted the Oklahoma coaching staff to successfully change their offensive strategy to the “I” formation in order to maximize Dupree’s effectiveness. On January 1, 1983 Oklahoma played Arizona State in the Fiesta Bowl where Dupree was named the MVP. Although he only played half of the game and had four injuries, Dupree set and still holds the Fiesta Bowl rushing record of 239 yards. Dupree said, “Misunderstandings and a lack of communication with head coach Barry Switzer”, prompted him to leave the program at Oklahoma in spite being predicted to be a multiple Heisman trophy nominee. After enrolling in the University of Southern Mississippi, Dupree left the program when learning that he would be required to sit out for two years.
In 1984 the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers signed Dupree at age 19 and made him the highest paid player in football. In his first year with the Breakers, Marcus gained 684 yards on 145 carries with 9 touchdowns. Unfortunately, a severe knee injury forced Dupree to leave the game. Amazingly, after an unprecedented five and a half year hiatus from professional football Dupree’s will, determination, work ethic, and passion were the catalysts for him to re-condition himself and earn a tryout with the Los Angeles Rams. In 1990, Dupree made the team and was named, “Comeback Player of the Year.” The Rams’ media guide called the Dupree story “one of the most intriguing comeback stories in all of sports.” In spite of a respectable sophomore season with the Rams, Dupree was released.
Recently ESPN filmed a highly acclaimed documentary about Dupree’s football career entitled, “The Best That Never Was”, produced and directed by eight-time Emmy winner Jonathan Hock. “The Best That Never Was” depicts the integrity and character of Marcus Dupree throughout his career and shows how his winning attitude helps him cope with “life after football”. Instead of dwelling on loss, Dupree says he is appreciative of the lessons he has learned and is cognizant of not squandering future opportunities. Today Mr. Dupree makes personal appearances for corporate events, gives inspirational speeches to a broad range of audiences, and recently was a national spokesperson for pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. He has filmed regional commercials including Hyundai and was featured in a major movie titled Life at These Speeds. He has recently revived the New Mid-South Wrestling and runs youth speed and agility sports camps. Dupree is also an equestrian enthusiast who enjoys spending time with his family.
August 2017, Dupree was inducted into the Mississippi Hall of Fame.