History of the Committee for King

The formation of the COMMITTEE FOR KING began in 1986. Alderman Boyce Grayson submitted to Mayor Jack Marshall the idea of having a commemorative service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the City of Tupelo. Mayor Marshall was very supportive of the idea and appointed Charles Penson (who, at that time, was the City Personnel Director) to coordinate the event. Mr. Penson proceeded to make the necessary arrangements to schedule this event. Mayor Marshall solicited various businesses and individuals in Tupelo to support this cause. The first commemorative service was held in the Tupelo Civic Auditorium. Local businesses and individuals from the City of Tupelo provided a complimentary dinner immediately after the program which was held in the Tupelo High School Cafeteria for the general public. The hostesses for this event were all volunteer employees of the City of Tupelo.

In November, 1986, other concerned citizens became involved in the issues involving the commemorating of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and at this point, THE COMMITTEE FOR KING was officially organized under the leadership of Attorney Kenneth Mayfield and Alderman Boyce Grayson. Numerous meetings were held at Kiddie Kastle Pre-School Center in Tupelo in an effort to accomplish committee goals. Since the formation, the Committee has been successful in accomplishing the following:

  • The renaming of part Highway 45 by-pass to “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.”
  • The renaming of Green Street School to “King School”
  • The sponsoring of annual commemorative services in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Since 1986, the Committee for King has been successful in acquiring several prominent speakers, such as, Elder Merlin Conoway, Jack Reed, Sr.; Dr. W. A. McMillian; Dr. Richard Thompson; Dr. Ronald Love; Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore; Barbara Jones of Memphis City Schools; Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker; Judge Patricia Wise of Jackson, Mississippi; Dr. Cecil Weeks, Lee county Superintendent of Education; Ed Cole, Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party; Attorney Charles Edward Carpenter, Sr., Dr. Mike Walters, former Superintendent of Tupelo Public Schools,; Dr. David Beckley, President of Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi; and Attorney Constance Slaughter-Harvey, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections General Counsel; Sen. Bennie Turner, MS State Senator, District 16; Motivational Speaker Bennie Walls; Calvin “Buck” Buchanan, U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi; Judge Barry W. Ford, Circuit Court Judge of the First Judicial District of Mississippi; Dr. Larry Goodine, Jr., Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Booneville, Mississippi and President of the Prentiss County Chapter of NAACP in Booneville, Mississippi; Dr. Robert Khayat, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi; Mayor Andre DeBerry of Holly Springs, Mississippi, and Gov. Ronnie Musgrove for the State of Mississippi, former Gov. William Winter and many others.

In additional to the accomplishment of the above-listed goals, we have engaged in several other civic activities that have made a significant contribution to the welfare of our community.

In 1995, the Lee County Chapter of the NAACP, under the direction of Viola Foster (then President of the Lee Co. Chapter) assumed responsibility of continuing the works and traditions of the Committee for King. With the outstanding leadership available to this organization, they worked hard to keep the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. alive in our community.

In the year 2000, the Committee for King resumed its role as the leading organization advocating racial harmony, equality and justice for all.

 The Drum Major Award

Each year the Committee for King selects an individual to honor with the coveted “Drum Major Award.” It is awarded to an individual who has, by example, dedicated himself or herself to the principles advocated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We would like to thank each of these individuals for their hard work and dedication.

  • 2017 – Shawn Brevard
  • 2016 – Melvyn R. Leventhal
  • 2016 – Fred Banks
  • 2015 – Palmer Foster
  • 2014 – Coach Mickey Linder
  • 2013 – Mack Authur Turner
  • 2012 – Henry Cobb
  • 2011 – Kenneth & Eloise Mayfeild
  • 2010 – Governor William Winter
  • 2009 – General Lee Young
  • 2008 – Councilwoman Nettie Y. Davis
  • 2007 – Zell Long
  • 2006 – John Thomas Morris
  • 2005 – Rev. Robert Jamison
  • 2004 – Viola Foster
  • 2003 – Tommie Ivy
  • 2002 – Jack Reed, Sr.
  • 2001 – James Neely
  • 2000 – Bennie Turner
  • 1999 – Barry Ford
  • 1998 – Howard Gunn
  • 1997 – L.B. Johnson
  • 1996 – Ulysses Sims
  • 1995 – Boyce Grayson
  • 1994 – W.A. McMillian
  • 1993 – Aaron Henry