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Jackson State University is the college of choice for a growing number of students. Enrollment has increased consistently over the past 10 years, from 6,218 during the 1996–97 academic year to 8,256 in 2006–07.

The Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic at Jackson State University opened its doors to the community in 1998.

The accomplished scholar and historian spent six sporadic years researching and writing “Jackson State University: The First Hundred Years, 1877-1977.”

Jackson State University has had a modern-day bellringing ceremony once per year beginning with its centennial celebration on Oct. 23, 1977.

Four spirited, engaging alumni of Jackson State University truly illustrate what it means to be “true blue” JSU fans.

Forty-five years ago, the Jackson State College Tigers defeated the Florida A&M University Rattlers 22-6 in the 29th Annual Orange Blossom Classic.

ON THE COVER: Jackson State University students Mike Kreger Jr., Whitney Nowlin and Kevin Lawrence are pictured in the College of Business building.


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Black males leading the way 4 Bmek Inherit clothing line 6

Communicative disorders


Former Miss JSUs Mother, daughter J-Settes Bluesman Arnold Lindsay Jazz great Cassandra Wilson Class Notes

30 32 33 34 36


Educational incentives Bridge to the Doctorate Teaching legacy continues

10 12 13

Dr. Lelia Gaston Rhodes History of the bell Take a look back

14 16 18

True blue JSU fans 24 Miss. lawmakers credit JSU 28

Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski


1962 football championship Richardson brothers Ex-NFL star Jimmy Smith Robert Brazile/Hall of Fame

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College/division briefs


Vol. 5, No. 2 Fall/Winter 2007


Dear Jacksonians: With exceptional faculty, alumni and academic offerings, there is no wonder Jackson State University enrolls some of the world’s best and brightest students. Our communicative disorders program trains professionals to work with challenged Mississippians. Computational chemistry expert Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski brings the world’s most renowned scientists to Jackson State annually. And jazz artist Cassandra Wilson moves the world with the sound of her voice. We have dedicated portions of this edition of The Jacksonian magazine to telling those stories. We also would like to introduce you to some of our rising stars. Make sure to read our cover story, “Choose Jackson State … I did,” to learn why some of our current students decided to come here. You also will learn about our new marketing campaign that highlights others who made the same decision. Fast forward a few years, and many of these current students will join the ranks of alumni such as Robert Cook, Jasmene Frazier, Shelly Hart and Calvin Younger, who bleed blue and white. True blue Tigers have an intense love for the university that makes them serve as ambassadors year-round. As we look to the future of Jackson State, we also celebrate its past and great tradition. Who better than Dr. Hilliard Lackey III, president of the Jackson State National Alumni Association, to tell the story behind the university’s ceremonial bell ringing? With his characteristic wit, Lackey chronicles one of the university’s most popular annual Founders’ Day events. In addition, it was nearly 30 years ago that Dr. Lelia Gaston Rhodes, dean emerita of libraries, wrote “Jackson State University: The First Hundred Years, 1877–1977.” In this issue, we learn more about the woman behind the book that serves as a true reference of JSU history. I invite you to learn more about Jackson State and continue your support of this fine institution. Your help ensures that we further our daily mission of “Challenging Minds, Changing Lives.” Respectfully,

Ronald Mason Jr. President, Jackson State University

BY EDDIE L. BROWN JR. onoray Ard, a graduate student at proud – she didn’t even show up. But I didn’t Jackson State University, had all the have a chip on my shoulder.” reasons not to become a successful or productive citizen. KNOWING HIS PURPOSE His mother struggled with drugs, and he didn’t Ard’s graduation day let-down and countless know his father until he was 13 years old. It others that followed taught him that no matter seemed his life story inevitably would reveal a how much he hurt, everyone deserves a second future destined to include promiscuity, jail time chance. and self-destruction. “There are times when you want to give up. But Ard, gifted and emotionally intelligent, You may give out sometimes, but don’t give up. was driven to succeed. He refused to become a I got to a point where I knew what my purpose part of the often-quoted statistic of there being was, and that really charged me to move formore black males in jail than in college. ward in my life.” He was among the more than 2,700 black Ard began his career at the Mississippi Chilmales at Jackson State in fall 2006, including dren’s Home Society. Working with the children nearly 380 who were in graduate school. on a daily basis, he was reminded of himself “I could have gotten into everything, especial- and his sisters. ly as a teenager, but I had a wonderful grandmother who laid down the law,” says Ard, 31, who grew up in a time when gang banging was really gang banging. “I knew I couldn’t allow how we were living to become a cycle for my family. My drive kicked in.” In 1994, Ard graduated from Jim Hill High School near Jackson State and attended private, historically black Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., on academic scholarships. “No one in my family went to college,” says Ard, who is completing his master’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in alcohol and drug studies. “I went to make sure my four siblings and I would get out of our situation and to show my mom that I could do it.” Four years later, Ard received his bachelor’s degree in psychology, a time of celebration and disappointment. “One of my driving forces in going to college was so my mom could be


“All I could think was that there was no difference between how I grew up and the things they experienced to get them into the children’s home. I could have very well been on the other side.” At that moment, Ard knew he wanted to dedicate his life to helping children, especially young black males, rise above their seemingly debilitating situations. He later went to work at Siwell Middle School in Jackson as an attendance officer. Since January 2007, he has been the coordinator for Project Intervention, a program sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi for youth in the juvenile justice system or who are deemed at risk. “I want the youth to know just because they

Honoray Ard believes positive stimulation comes as a result of positive interaction.

Carl “Old School” Mitchell stands in the foreground of one of the remaining buildings from Jackson College’s old school.

are in depressing situations, they can still make ‘OLD SCHOOL’ SCHOOLING Carl Mitchell believes whetting young peoit. If a kid like me went to college and succeedple’s natural appetite for knowledge increases ed, they can, too.” the likelihood they will continue their educaArd believes the key to producing exceptional tion. qualities in young boys lies in what he calls his Most people who frequent the busy walk“model theory.” ing strips at Jackson State know him as “Old “I really believe I have to model the behavior School,” a name that needs no explanation and I ask and require of these fellows. They watch what you do more than anything. If I want shirt captures his character squarely. At 49 years old, Mitchell is known on campus tails tucked in, mine must be the first one in.” by his retro Fedora hat, tilted slightly, AfrocenArd’s ultimate desire for all of his boys is to tric garb and wooden cane. attend college and become honest and producMitchell earned a master’s degree in secondtive citizens. After he receives his master’s deary education from Jackson State in 2003 and gree, he plans to write a grant that will allow is completing a specialist degree in education. educators to employ his theory. The tall, slender man knows a lot, and he He also plans to start a youth alcohol, drug doesn’t hesitate to share his knowledge with prevention and intervention center. Until then, passersby or students curious or brave enough Ard says he will continue to show his guys the to ask who he is. many options in life. Who is he? A man who seeks to enlighten Marcus West, 17, a senior at Bailey Magnet young people. During breaks, he can be seen High School, says Ard is a positive role model. “I’ll take after him any day. He’s kind of like a standing in the middle of a huddled group of big brother,” says West, a regular at the Capi- students or sitting on benches along Gibbstol Street center. “I like the way he talks to the Green Plaza. “I’ve decided to teach people who are inyounger kids. If there were five more Mr. Ards in Jackson, we wouldn’t have as many young terested in that type of good ol’ information,” people in the juvenile system or dropping out of Mitchell says. “I still see a need for the old value system.” school.”

The value system the proud Yazoo City, Miss., native embraces centers on the traditional family. “I don’t know why people wonder why black males are not in school,” Mitchell says. “That starts from home. We (black) males have to take our place. The black male has always been the foundation of the family. What would happen if I take your seat from under you? You would fall, because your foundation is not there.” Just as any other person convinced their ideas and thoughts are worth sharing, Mitchell has decided to teach people who are interested in his search for “knowledge and truth.” “I want to remind the black community about our value system,” Mitchell says. “Growing up, we never heard of black people killing one another until we got to high school. And when we would do things that didn’t line up to who we were, old people would say, ‘Don’t do that, baby. We don’t do that.’ They reinforced our value system.” The nontraditional student approaches his education with intense fervor. “Education is the beginning of knowledge, wisdom and understanding,” he says. “The more we learn, we can make a critical review of our past so that our future won’t be full of mistakes.” Once he completes his specialist degree, Mitchell plans to seek a federal grant that will allow him to teach character, citizenship and social science education. “I want to make sure I do my part in showing young people what their role is in society.” Similar to Ard, Mitchell says to educate young males about good character, adults must lead the way. “We (adult men) must have an intellectual standard of goodness so when younger males look at us, they would want to emulate us. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we know what that goodness is.”

At Jackson State University, 2,722 black males made up 33 percent of the university’s 8,256 undergraduate students at the end of the fall 2006 semester. Despite interruptions caused by military service or financial and personal woes, black males hold their own in JSU’s graduate school. In fall 2006, black males made up 22 percent of the 1,728 graduate school students, according to JSU Institutional Research and Planning.


“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) J’hai Keeton’s Mississippi-based clothing line, Bmek Inherit, is a lot of things. Colorful. Hip. Urban. Even message-infused. But what it is not, Keeton says, is the final destination in his quest for financial success. The 22-year-old Moss Point, Miss., native, who graduated from Jackson State University in May with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance, says Bmek is quite simply his latest and most visible means to a prosperous end. “It’s a way for me to reach financial independence,” says Keeton, who recently was hired as an accountant at William Adley & Co. firm in Washington, D.C. “I love money … always have, and we as a race have to secure our own finances. I could have focused on any kind of business, but I have always liked clothes.” Keeton says the clothing venture took root in 2001 when his business partner, Lamar Lawshe, created a female-inspired clothing line called the Authentic DimePiece collection. “We did this line back then based on the belief that every woman should feel like a dime and since then, everybody has come out with a dime-piece collection,” Keeton says. “We did things like fly to Atlanta for trade shows, and we went all over to show the line and meet people.” The clothing line piqued Keeton’s interest in being a designer, but it didn’t gain enough success to take hold. And Keeton, then a junior in high school, shifted his attention to other things, including the lawn-care business he operated that had contracts with Wendy’s restaurants along the Gulf Coast. Keeton and Lawshe became reacquainted years later when Keeton was about to attend Jackson State, and they decided to again seek success in the urban-wear clothing market. “I was introduced to someone who had a concept that I wanted to try. It could have been any kind of business … selling cars. But the concept was good,” he says. The concept has proven to be so good, Keeton says,

that the clothing line is being sold in several Mississippi stores, including shops in Jackson, Hattiesburg and along the Coast. Eric Thompson, owner of The Shoe Market, a south Jackson store selling the Bmek clothing line, says he has no regrets about taking a chance on an unknown designer and new clothing line. “We were trying to have something unique and unusual that no one else in the area could say they were carrying, and a friend told me about Mr. Keeton and his clothing line,” says Thompson, whose store has been open for about two years. “The second he told me about it, I was excited. When I met Keeton, I liked his mannerism, and he was very professional, so I gained confidence in doing business with him.” James Gilmore, a Jackson State senior business administration major, says he’s also supportive of the Bmek clothing line and often wears pieces from the collection. “I wear the line first of all because he (Keeton) is my friend and I support him. Secondly, it is a black, urban wear line, and I represent the meaning of the line that I believe he is presenting,” says Gilmore, 22. “I wear so many of his clothes that people call me a Bmek model, and many people stop me and ask me about the line. I tell them it was designed by a young black man who attended Jackson State and is trying to get his business together.” While reactions to the clothing line from others have been mixed from a crowd often driven by well-known brands, Thompson says it is important for him to help someone young pursue his dream. “I say why not take a chance because we all have talents and abilities within us,” Thompson says. “We all have the responsibility to reach

back and help somebody else, and I saw this as an opportunity to help someone else. Plus, I don’t see any difference in his line and more well-known lines. The quality of the clothing is the same, and there are a lot of similarities in the style. Outside of knowing him, I wouldn’t have known that it was a local designer.” Keeton says he believes what sets his line apart is the message ingrained in both the line’s name and overall concept. “Part of the concept is in the name of the line. It’s as simple as the Bible, but it also goes into the perception and mindset of how living a good lifestyle will bless you in more ways than one,” says Keeton, who credits his business partner with creating the name following a conversation about patience that prompted him to read the Bible. “Lamar was just kind of reading Matthew 5:5 about being meek, and he said that’s what we need to be about,” Keeton says. “We went to the dictionary to look up the word meek, and we saw the phonetic spelling. We took out one of the letters and made the first word ‘B’ to make it more fashionable.” Keeton, the youngest of five children, says he knows most of those wearing his line won’t understand the message just from the name, just as most don’t know the history behind other clothing lines such as Baby Phat, Rocawear and Applebottom. But he believes once the public becomes educated, they won’t be able to walk away. “A lot of people may think that being meek is being weak… but it is about choosing the

right path,” says Keeton, who considers himself more spiritual than religious. “Basically, I believe that our line is world-changing…not in a physical sense but in a mental way because that is where the whole struggle is…in the mind.” Keeton predicts that despite his entering the corporate world and moving out of state, Bmek will continue to prosper, transform and spread to other corners of the country. That’s because their marketing strategy is growing as their business acumen increases. “Right now the line is urban because I am urban, but this is not the only edition that we will release of Bmek,” Keeton says. “We will have the Inheritors Edition that will be a top-of-the-line edition or a ‘purple label’ line. We also will have an International Edition that caters to different cultures where Asians will wear certain designs and even Africans will have their own design.” For more information about Bmek Inherit, visit or The Shoe Market at 2885 W. McDowell Road in Jackson.

Recent Jackson State University graduate J’hai Keeton owns a clothing line, Bmek Inherit, that is sold in several Mississippi stores, including shops in Jackson, Hattiesburg and along the Gulf Coast.

Nine-year-old Kelsey Rideau of Byram works with Jackson State University student Melissa Shorter at the Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic at the Universities Center.

Dr. Zenobia Bagli

Clinic helping patients with speech, language, hearing disorders BY ERICA M. JORDAN Matthew Blackwell, once a prominent business owner, suffered four strokes in six years. His last stroke in 2005 resulted in severe problems with his speech and language. Although he suffered many setbacks, he found hope at Jackson State University’s Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic at the Universities Center. “I couldn’t say anything two years ago before I started coming to the clinic,” says Blackwell, who owned a plumbing and carpeting business in Jackson, Miss. “Now I can speak.” The department of communicative disorders in the School of Health Sciences, College of Public Service opened its doors to the community by establishing the clinic in 1998. The Ayers higher education desegregation lawsuit settlement fully funded the program. The clinic was formed to help children and adults who may not have the proper resources for adequate care and intervention. It does not

charge for its services. The clinic provides therapy to people with speech, language and hearing problems resulting from birth defects, autism, lisps, appraxia and developmental challenges. It also helps to rehabilitate people, like Blackwell, who have suffered hearing and speech loss because of illnesses. “Our services meet the needs of the community, especially for those who fall between the cracks,” says Dr. Zenobia Bagli, chair of the department of communicative disorders. “But we also have patients who just prefer our services.” Blackwell says that attending therapy at the clinic has helped him improve his quality of life. “I’ve learned to be more patient as well.” Before the stroke, Blackwell was independent and hardworking. At his church, he served as deacon and volunteered with the youth ministry. Like Blackwell, Brenda Sharp of Forest, Miss.,

DO I QUALIFY? All children and adults who have any of the following may contact the clinic for possible service: developmental and acquired articulation and phonological disorders, motor speech disorders, language and cognitive disorders, voice disorders (including services to persons with laryngectomy), resonance disorders, swallowing disorders, accent modification or aural habilitation/rehabilitation. There is no charge for the services.

CONTACT US The Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic is located in the Universities Center, 3825 Ridgewood Road in Jackson. For more information, call 601-432-6846 or 601-432-6717; Dr. Zenobia Bagli, chair at 601-432-6713; or Carol Cannon, clinic coordinator at 601-432-6849.

couldn’t speak a word when she first started therapy. The former math and science teacher suffered a stroke four years ago that damaged the left side of her brain. She’s been getting help from Kelley Colyott of Jackson, who is pursuing a master’s degree in communicative disorders. “She’s helped me learn how to communicate better,” Sharp says. “I read, write and verbalize my thoughts and feelings.” Colyott says it has been rewarding for her to see progress. “Seeing a little improvement in a patient is a lot of improvement in my eyes,” says Colyott, who has served six patients. WHOM THEY SERVE Students work under the supervision of licensed and nationally certified speechlanguage pathologists in the department of communicative disorders. The clinic currently serves 46–54 patients per semester with a waiting list of about 50 patients. Patients come from as far south as Bay Springs and as far north as Kosciusko to receive services from the clinic, which is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition to the services provided at the clinic, the students and clinical supervisors provide more than 1,000 screenings per year in the community. These screenings are done at health fairs and local schools, as well as Head Start centers. “We provide two of the most important things: service to the community and training to students,” says Carol Cannon, clinic coordinator and instructor. STUDENTS MAKING A DIFFERENCE Students in the department of communicative disorders aspiring to become speech-language pathologists apply what they learn in the classroom with hands-on experience in the clinic. Each graduate and undergraduate student must complete clinic and service hours as well as an internship. “Students earn the opportunity to go off site, and the clinical supervisors make sure students are well-prepared,” Cannon says. Cannon looks at the relationship between the students, their patients and supervisors as a “marriage.” “It’s a relationship, and we must work together to get the best experience possible,” she says. Master’s student Shamona Smith of Brookhaven, Miss., has served three patients. So far, they have been children of various ages and disorders. She has always had a desire to help others

but did not want to be a nurse or doctor. She has found joy working in this field. “My family encouraged me to go into a field where I could help others,” Smith says. “I would always go around correcting others’ speech. This field gives me the opportunity to help people speak correctly in a very positive way.” Moneka Dancy, a master’s student from Macon, Miss., recalls the first time her 3-yearold patient uttered his first word. “With his articulation errors, you could not understand anything he was saying,” she says. “Now he knows 10 sounds that help him in forming words. His parents were very excited to see his progress. He is now saying words at home.”

PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE Michele Rideau of Byram, Miss., likes the fact that the students and clinical supervisors are sincere in meeting her daughter’s needs. Nine-year-old Kelsey Rideau has been attending the clinic since she was 6 years old. A speech therapist recommended the clinic after she was identified with having articulation and language disorders. “This clinic has helped my daughter, Kelsey, tremendously,” says Rideau. “It is reinforcement to what she is learning in school.” Rideau recommends the program to parents whose children have any type of speech, language or hearing problem. “It is a great program, and my daughter looks forward to coming.”

Brenda Sharp reviews a word list with student Kelley Colyott at the Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic at the Universities Center.

Matthew Blackwell, a patient at the Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic at the Universities Center, works with Carol Cannon, clinic coordinator and instructor.

Educational program gives employees incentive to excel BY RIVA BROWN At first, he felt out of place. A little intimidated. When he looked around him, all he saw were students who were about half his age. But Tommy Coffie knew this was where he needed to be. In the classroom. Working on his college degree. Preparing to make a better life for himself. The 42-year-old is among numerous Jackson State University employees who are taking advantage of the tuition remission program. Under the policy, full-time employees do not have to pay for two academic courses per semester or summer session. Coffie, a food clerk in the Dining Hall, began taking classes a couple of years ago to earn a bachelor’s degree in history. “When I came here to work, I was looking at the fact that I could have a job to support myself,” says Coffie, who has been keeping inventory and dispensing food in the Dining Hall for about three years. “I didn’t know the school financed your opportunity to get an education until I got the job,” he says. “I said if they’re offering me two classes free, why not take advantage of it?” Under the program, Jackson State employees are encouraged, when possible, to enroll in classes during their lunch hour, which can be taken between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Many continue taking classes until they earn degrees. Between 2002 and August 2007, 212 employees earned bachelor’s, master’s, specialists or doctoral degrees, according to JSU Institutional Research and Planning. That includes 31 in 2002, 24 in 2003, 30 in 2004, 39 in

2005, 40 in 2006 and 48 in 2007. Coffie plans to be a JSU graduate soon. This is his third attempt to earn his degree, and he is determined to stay on track. “I see the value of it this time,” he says. He first enrolled at Jackson State in 1989 as an elementary education major before switching to social work. But when his GPA dropped, he dropped out. “I wasted time and taxpayers’ money when I did have a Pell grant and financial aid.” He re-enrolled in 1996 as a history major for a semester, this time paying for the degree out of his own pocket before he ran out of money. Now that he’s more mature, he understands the importance of obtaining a college education – as long as it doesn’t interfere with his Christian duties. “I had put my spiritual values over the secular values of getting an education. Now I know I can use this secular education of getting a degree to help me along in life.” ERICA STEELE Erica Steele knows that earning her bachelor’s degree will improve her life and the lives of others. The administrative assistant/traffic coordinator at Jack-

To encourage and reward staff members for continuing their education, Jackson State University will give employees a one-time bonus for earning degrees from an accredited institution. Employees who earn bachelor’s degrees get $250; master’s degrees, $500; and doctoral or other terminal degrees, $1,000. Since July 2000, a staffer who earned a doctoral or terminal degree received a bonus. Effective Dec. 18, 2006, the educational incentives policy was revised to include bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients. For more information, visit www.jsums. edu/~hr/educationalincentivespolicy.pdf.

son State’s TV23 plans to earn her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2008. She finished her coursework this year and is completing her field work at the Hinds County Human Resource Agency’s Adolescent Offender Program. The single mother of four says having had the flexibility of taking two free classes during her workday was the financial incentive she needed to earn her degree.

Tommy Coffie, a food clerk in the Jackson State Dining Hall, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history with the assistance of the university’s tuition remission program.

“Before I started working at JSU, I wanted to go to school, but financially I didn’t think it was going to be possible,” says Steele, 44, who has been employed with Jackson State since 1994. “I may have been faced with stopping work and going to school full time.” Steele says seeing her work, attend classes and study at night inspired two of her children to attend Jackson State. Because she works for the university, they were able to enroll at a reduced rate. Under the dependent tuition waiver policy, the university grants a 50 percent undergraduate discount to single, dependent children of full-time employees. Because of a grandfather clause, single, dependent children of continuing employees hired prior to July 1, 1977, are eligible for a full waiver of undergraduate tuition. As a result of the policy, Steele’s daughter, Erica Steele-Washington, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2004. Another daughter, Armetha Steele, is a senior criminal justice major. “That 50 percent off was a tremendous help,” Steele says. “It left money for the books, and we didn’t have to take out additional loans.” Steele says Dr. Judy Alsobrooks Meredith of TV23 has encouraged her to apply for graduate school after she completes her field work. Steele eventually wants to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in social work from Jackson State. “When you think about our history and our fight for our education,” Steele says, “it’s almost a tragedy to work here and not take advantage of the opportunity.” DR. CURTIS GORE Dr. Curtis Gore is among several JSU employees who earned all their degrees under the tuition remission program. The director of graduate admissions earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1995, a master’s degree in guidance and counseling in 2000, and a doctorate in educational administration in 2004. “I’m very appreciative to the university for all the opportunities it has given me,” says Gore, who also teaches in the College of Lifelong Learning and the College of Education and Human Development. “I know I would not have been able to afford to go to school to finish my bachelor’s or get my master’s or Ph.D.” Gore says he had no intention of earning a doctorate, but individuals such as Dr. Dorris Robinson-Gardner, dean of the Division of Graduate Studies, motivated him to continue his education.

Erica Steele (left), an administrative assistant/traffic coordinator with Jackson State’s TV23, took advantage of the tuition waiver policy so her daughters, Armetha Steele (center) and Erica Steele-Washington could earn degrees from the university.

Dr. Curtis Gore (center), director of graduate admissions at Jackson State University, confers with his graduate assistants, Philemon Kirui and Adriana Moreno. Gore earned three degrees through JSU’s tuition remission program.

“Sometimes I wanted to give up, but they let me know that I had their support.” When Gore was younger, he dropped out of Jackson State during his senior year to work at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “I was impressed with making a little money to support myself, get an apartment and move out of my parents’ home,” he recalls. “I wanted to go back to finish, but I didn’t have the drive and determination.” Two years after he began working at Jackson State, he started taking a few classes. After a few years – and to his surprise – his adviser told him he had earned the remaining credits he needed to complete his bachelor’s degree. “That in itself made me feel good,” he remembers. “My sister had gone to the University of Southern Mississippi and had gotten a bach-

elor’s degree long before I had thought about going back. That motivated me to say, ‘Yes, I want to go back and finish that degree.’ “I was always envious when I’d go to my parents’ home and see my sister’s degree sitting on the piano. I said, ‘One of these days, I will get my degree so my mom will have both of them sitting on the piano.’ ” Gore adds that nontraditional students should not be intimidated by younger students in the classroom. “Your mind is a little more settled, and you’re a little more mature-minded and understand the importance behind what you’re trying to do … such as increase your pay and your job stability,” says Gore, who is in his 40s. “Do not let anyone stop you from going on and achieving your goal.”

Program helps STEM students bridge to Ph.D.s BY CIERRA ROBINSON AND RIVA BROWN


At a College of Science, Engineering and Technology lecture, William D. Clay II remembers a speaker showing a picture of what he considered to be an endangered species. The picture wasn’t of a Siberian tiger or African elephant. It was of a black man in a lab coat working in a chemistry lab. Clay is studying to make sure that picture never becomes reality. He is among 58 current and former Jackson State University students who are a part of the two-year Bridge to the Doctorate Program in the national Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, or LSAMP. The rigorous academic, research training and professional development program is designed to prepare promising minority students to earn doctorates in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, or STEM, fields. “Although the colossal gap of under-represented minorities in the STEM sciences is slowly being filled, the Bridge program has engraved in my mind the need to assist in filling this gap,” says Clay, 23, now a doctoral student at the University of California Santa Barbara. “I can accomplish this by not only obtaining my Ph.D., but also by sharing the wealth of knowledge with other young minorities of the wonderful opportunities available to them in the STEM sciences,” says the Pensacola, Fla., native, who is studying applied mathematics with a concentration in computational science and engineering.

all 10 of its Cohort I students in doctoral programs. In addition, all 12 of those in Cohort II have bridged to doctorates, while 10 of the 12 in Cohort III have done so. Eleven of the dozen students in Cohort IV are moving into their second year of the program, while Cohort V began in fall 2007. Some Bridge doctoral students in Cohort I include Kyle Nash, Mississippi State University, computer science; Isi Tolliver, Vanderbilt University, molecular biology; and Cornelius Toole, Louisiana State University, computer science. Some in Cohorts II, III and IV respectively include Angela Fortner, Princeton University, chemistry; Kirbie Clark, University of Washington, molecular biology; and Jelani Zarif, Michigan State University, cell biology. “I am honored to be a part of this important program that has helped so many outstanding minority students at Jackson State further their education by pursuing doctorates in the STEM disciplines,” says Dr. James Perkins, who, since 2003, has served as project director of the LSAMP’s Bridge to the Doctorate Program, as well as the statewide Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation. “It has been a real privilege to work with these students and their mentors here at Jackson State and other universities around the nation, especially the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of California Berkeley,” says Perkins, also director of the CSET Office of Research and a professor of chemistry. To be eligible for the program, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen and have a bachelor of science degree in a STEM major with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0. The applicant also must have taken part in an undergraduate LSAMP program. Jackson State’s approximately $5 Tomekia Simeon William D. Clay II million in grants from the National Jackson State’s Bridge to the Doctorate Pro- Science Foundation allows Bridge participants gram has been doing its part to expose students to receive a $30,000 stipend a year for two to those opportunities. The university is one of years, as well as full graduate tuition and fees; only two LSAMP sites in the nation to place mentoring assistance; academic enrichment;

Dr. James Perkins

summer internships with national or international laboratories and universities; and travel in the United States and overseas to professional seminars, workshops and conferences, where they often present their research. Tomekia Simeon, a member of Cohort I, presented research in South Africa in August 2007. The doctoral student in chemistry at Jackson State also has presented research in Guatemala and Poland. In addition, the 28-year-old Jackson, Miss., native was among 36 students in the nation selected to attend a meeting of Nobel Laureates in chemistry in Germany in 2006, the same year she was named “Best Ph.D. Chemistry Graduate Student” at Jackson State. “The Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation has had a profound impact on my development as a research scientist, as well as my career and professional development, and was an integral part of my success,” says Simeon, who earned a master’s degree in theoretical chemistry from Jackson State in 2005. Clay, who earned a master’s degree in applied math from Jackson State in May 2007, also credits the program for impacting his life. In the summer of 2007, he completed an internship at Educational Testing Service in Princeton, N.J., where he evaluated computer algebra systems. Earlier, Clay received the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship fellowship and Graduate Degrees for Minorities fellowship. Clay says the Bridge program further impressed upon him the importance of clearly articulating himself. “It’s very important that those of us in research, especially minorities, be able to articulate our science in a clear and concise manner,” says the member of Cohort III.

Education is the key BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON

Dr. Daniel Watkins considers himself a testament to the quality of Jackson State University’s College of Education and Human Development. Not only did he earn bachelor’s (’85), master’s (’87) and doctoral (’98) degrees from there, he’s now its interim dean. For two years straight, the college has been the No. 1 producer of African Americans with bachelor’s degrees in education. According to Diverse Issues in Higher Education, in 2006 and 2007, more African Americans earned undergraduate education degrees at Jackson State than any other institution in the United States, either historically black or traditionally white. “I didn’t realize how great Jackson State was until I became a principal and superintendent,” says Watkins, who returned to his alma mater in 2003 after four years of leading the Yazoo City Public School District in central Mississippi. “I was really impressed with the JSU teachers and principals, but I didn’t realize that until I became a supervisor.” As a Baptist minister and former history teacher, Watkins is precisely the kind of person then-Natchez Seminary founders sought to educate 130 years ago, according to “A brief history of Jackson College: A typical story of the survival of education among Negroes in the South,” written in 1953 by the university’s fourth president, Dr. B. Baldwin Dansby. “The Baptist Home Mission Society believed that the success of the colored population

LaToya Morgan listens to instruction during the first day of class.

throughout the South in general, but in Mississippi particularly, lay upon capable self government, moderated and guided by Christian ethics and sound morality,” reads the book on its first page. “The role of Negro teachers and preachers at that time was most important. It was to Christian leadership that the bulk of the colored population looked for guidance.” Jackson State’s foundation began with 20 students in 1877. Now with a population of more than 8,000 students, approximately 1,700 of them are in the College of Education and Human Development. Many education graduates have and continue to experience successful careers as principals, professor, teachers, fiscal officers, researchers and policy makers. Having proven themselves as top educators, 55 of Mississippi’s nationally board-certified teachers – one of the highest certifications an educator can receive – are JSU alumni. The college is not resting on its laurels; it is forging ahead in unchartered territory to provide an even better education for the state’s educators. “I don’t think we’ve perfected teaching, but that doesn’t stop us from striving to attain,” Watkins says. “Education is evolutionary.” With more than 20 online courses – more than any other college at Jackson State – the College of Education and Human Development is evolving into an educational provider for more

Dr. Daniel Watkins is interim dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Jackson State University.

nontraditional students. The 2007–08 academic year kicked off with a number of new programs to better prepare new teachers, seasoned school leaders and students just beginning their learning careers. The College of Education and Human Development New Teacher Center Induction Institute follows graduates for three years, providing professional support and mentorship. The Mississippi Leadership Institute – a partnership between JSU, the Barksdale Group, the Jackson Public Schools and the state Department of Education – has developed an Education Leadership Academy to provide principals and superintendents with innovative methods for conflict resolution, assessment, evaluation and dropout prevention. A part of MLI, the Marietta Reading Center at the Jackson Medical Mall provides testing and tutoring for children with reading deficiencies. Dr. Ivory Phillips, dean emeritus of the college and a JPS School Board member, credits the constant growth to the numerous faculty member who, having established themselves as practitioners in the public school districts, chose to dedicate themselves to teaching the teachers. People like Dr. Cleopatra Thompson – who led the college when JSU first earned accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education in 1972 – were especially responsible for the success JSU enjoys today. “I’m glad the rest of the world is really finding out we are as good as we are,” says Phillips, who remembers the college’s rankings climb from three to two and fiJustin Lee takes notes during a Historical and Cultural nally No. 1. “We are constantly increasing Foundations of Education class. and improving.”

At the Henry Thomas Sampson Library, with the original historical marker of then-Jackson College in the background, Dr. Lelia Gaston Rhodes looks through her handwritten manuscripts and the original photographs used in the research and writing of “Jackson State University: The First 100 Years, 1877– 1977.” Her research is stored in the library’s archives.

EDUCATION • Lanier High School, 1940 • Jackson State College, bachelor’s in education, 1944 • Atlanta University, master’s in library science, 1956 (with honors) • Florida State University, advanced master’s in library and information science-administration, 1974 • Florida State University, Ph.D. in library and information science-administration, 1975 (with distinction) CAREER HIGHLIGHTS • First woman and first African American in Mississippi to earn a Ph.D. in library scienceadministration • First Jackson State alumna to become the university’s dean of libraries • Jackson State University: dean emerita of libraries, 1988–present; dean of libraries, 1976–88; associate library director, 1973–76; associate head librarian, 1964–75; head cataloger, 1957–64; library assistant, 1944–53; professorial rank • Hinds County Election Commission, District 5 commissioner, 1993–present • Hinds Community College Board of Trustees, member, 1992–present COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT • Jackson State University National Alumni Association Inc., current national board member, past national president • The Links Inc., past member of the national executive committee, past president of the LeFleur’s Bluff Chapter • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., past president of the Beta Delta Omega Chapter • St. James Baptist Church, deaconess • NAACP, member • Mississippi Library Association, past president

Dr. Lelia Gaston


Scholar, author and historian BY RIVA BROWN Dr. Lelia Gaston Rhodes of Jackson, Miss., an accomplished scholar and historian, spent six sporadic years researching and writing “Jackson State University: The First Hundred Years, 1877– 1977.” In the following pages, Rhodes speaks candidly about her family, educational background and what she endured chronicling the university’s history. “Only the author knows it was God who sustained her and brought her through an experience that was challenging, traumatic, painful and yet pleasurable,” Rhodes writes in the book’s acknowledgements. What was it like growing up in Jackson in the mid-1920s and 1930s?

I grew up in Washington Addition as the oldest of seven children. My father worked in the baggage room of the Illinois Central Railroad, and my mother was a homemaker. My parents were very strict, and they only allowed me to interact with other girls at church and school. I attended Jim Hill Elementary School, then on Lynch Street, for first through sixth grade, and Lanier High on Ash Street for seventh through 12th grades. Attending college out of state was my preference, but my parents were not able to send me. How did you end up working at Jackson State College after you graduated? While I was working as a clerk typist at the Penta-

gon in Washington, D.C., then-President Jacob L. Reddix wired me a telegram inviting me to come back to Jackson State. He remembered me as a student who worked as an assistant in the library and was actively involved in the Student Government Association. That telegram was ignored until I heard my college boyfriend who was in the service was coming home. I accepted a position as a library assistant, although I had no library training. Working in the library gave me an opportunity to expand my knowledge in the disciplines of history and literature. As secretary to the person serving as head librarian, I sat under her tutelage. She talked about the great books of the Western world. She motivated me through her knowledge and sharing of the profession. Those factors influenced my decision to pursue librarianship as a career. What inspired you to go back to school to earn your master’s and doctoral degrees? The inspiration stemmed from my work environment. The head librarian had a master’s degree. I felt strongly that in order to be effective and support the university’s academic programs, more in-depth knowledge was needed about the profession and my role interacting with faculty and students. How did you become interested in writing the university’s history? The initial interest came from my active involvement in doing historical research for activities for the university, which included Founders’ Day. Officials also asked me to serve on many visiting teams for institutional accreditation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Having to examine documents about other institutions and prepare documents about Jackson State enhanced my knowledge about this institution. My love for history, conducting research and exploring new ideas led me to author the book as well as several other publications. Uncovering and unearthing information seemingly not known gave me the impetus to dig and discover. When did you start writing the book? The research was done in 1972 and work began on my Ph.D. in 1973. I thought I would have the opportunity to use the historical research as my dissertation, but my dissertation committee denied my request. I picked myself up without going to “Whitfield.” The book had to be put on hold. Many people thought work was being done on the history book while I was in school, but it was not. The dissertation committee said

my work had to be new research in the field of librarianship. What challenges did you encounter trying to complete your Ph.D. and the book? No work was done on the book between 1973 and 1975. We wanted the publication released for the centennial celebration in 1977, but it did not get done. At times, it became stressful and seemed humanly impossible. I had a breast cancer issue while working on my Ph.D. It took me close to three years to get that degree because of the rigorous work and the racism. I really wanted to throw in the towel. At times, the thought occurred to me to return to Jackson without a degree. But the president said, “Oh, no. You can’t come back to Jackson State without a Ph.D.” It was no secret that I was battling breast cancer. My assignment to chronicle Jackson State’s history came because of my involvement in scholarly, historical and academic endeavors. I thought, “Will I live to see this through?” It was a troubling question to ask, but I never felt sorry for myself. The book would get written with God’s help. Being surrounded by a competent, committed staff helped me weather the storm. The oncologist eventually gave me a clean bill of health. I earned my Ph.D. in 1975 and finished writing the book at the end of 1977. It was at the publishers in 1978 and was released in 1979. Thanks to my husband and family praying for me, and my stick-to-it-ive-ness, God brought me through. Your family stands by you and keeps you going. If it wasn’t for my late hus-

band, John D. Rhodes, who was a former elementary school principal, and my two children, Marilyn Rhodes-Latson and John D. Rhodes Jr., I would not have been able to endure all I’ve gone through. God has blessed me with four grandsons and seven great-grandchildren, including a set of twins. They are an extension of my life and keep me going. What type of compensation did you receive for writing the book? The pay was the authorship of the final product. There are no royalties because the book is copyrighted by Jackson State. The university provided me with a budget to do research and for travel. At times, outside typists received compensation directly from me to type my long hours of copious notes. What was the response after the book was published? A sense of appreciation was received in more recent years than at the time the book was published. At the time it was presented, the target population would have been alumni, faculty and students so they could have a sense of their alma mater. An overflowing reception was not expected. If then-President Dr. John A. Peoples Jr. had a sense that the book was 75 percent or more of his expectations, that was all I needed. How did you feel after the book was completed? I cried tears of joy and felt a debt of gratitude to my family, my staff and other people who contributed to reading the drafts. Before the book was completed, there were at least five to 10 drafts, but as one of my worse critics, I was never satisfied. The completion was one of the greatest milestones in my life other than marriage and children. I felt like I had done for my university a segment of what it had done for me. By capturing 100 years of Jackson State’s existence, some degree of my obligation to the university was fulfilled. Note: The Jackson State Development Foundation Inc. has a limited number of original copies of “Jackson State University: The First 100 Years, 1877–1977” available for a donation of $1,000 to the Campaign for Jackson State. Autographed copies are available for a $2,000 donation. Dr. Lelia Gaston Rhodes will sign them on Founders’ Day. To donate, log on to and click on Supporting Jackson State. Reference copies are available at JSU’s H.T. Sampson Library.


BY DR. HILLIARD LACKEY III ill the longest tenured Jackson State University employee come forward and serve as honorary bell ringer? Thank you, Dr. Dollye M.E. Robinson (1952–


present). “Now, will the president of the freshman class ring the bell one time for each milestone in our historical narration?” And so it goes each year at Founders’ Day. Jackson State has had a modern-day bell-ringing ceremony once per year beginning with its centennial celebration on Oct. 23, 1977. The late Robert B. Cooper (’49), former director of the Jacob L. Reddix Campus Union, was the bell ringer for that occasion. In ensuing years, a scenario developed to have the president of the freshman class as bell ringer; the presidents of the sophomore, junior and senior classes as attendants; and the longest-tenured employee as honorary bell ringer. The acknowledged resident historian has served as historical narrator for the bell-ringing ceremony. This is done to both encourage attendance and assure perpetuation of the legacy. The JSU bell-ringing ceremony is usually held immediately after the Founders’ Day Convocation, with attendees moving formally or informally from the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium to the site of the Centennial Bell on the green in front of Ayer Hall. The bell ringers, dressed in academic regalia, gather on the apron of the bell tower as the audience either sits in the 100 or so chairs or stands in a semicircle for the brief ceremony. The JSU Army ROTC Saber Team forms an arch for the bell ringers to assemble. RING THAT BELL! The presiding officer commences the ceremony with a few opening remarks, the president of the university gives credence and significance to the tradition, and then the fun begins. The narrator gives a historical chronology of highlights first by decades, (1877–1887, 1887–1897, etc.) and then annually for the most recent years since the last decade. The freshman class president accentuates each time period with a ringing of the bell. In some years, a voice choir from the


department of speech communication and theatre, or a contingent of freshmen from a University Success class, provides background theatrics or choral accents. The presentations in the 1990s and into the new millennium have been well-received by faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends. The 2005 presentation was particularly hailed as being meaningful in unifying the JSU family during a third consecutive losing football season. That ceremony was held just outside the McCoy auditorium. THE HISTORY OF BELL RINGING Bell ringing evolved during the Middle Ages as a basic mode of communication for villages and rural communities. Long before wireless communication became more than a notion, signaling between remote sites or in a contiguous gathering, informing or alarming,

In the early 1920s, Fred Gayden and Julius Wilcher were responsible for ringing the bell in accordance with the following schedule: 5:30 a.m. 6:30 a.m. 7:45 a.m. 9, 10 & 11 a.m. Noon 1, 2 & 3 p.m. 3 p.m. 5 p.m. 7 p.m. 9 a.m. (Sundays) 1 p.m. (Sundays) 3 p.m. (Sundays) 7 p.m. (Wednesdays) Source: Jackson State University archives

Rising Breakfast School Opened Classes Lunch Classes Dismissal Rehearsals Study Hours Began Sunday School Quiet Hour Vespers Prayer Meeting

FROM THE ARCHIVES was done by yodeling, smoke signals, drums, steam whistles or bells. The use of bells by churches had its system. This quote from a Michigan State University researcher says it all: “The tolling bell may proclaim, give warning, summon, cheer or spread tranquility. Its tone may in turn be merry, delicate, solemn or mournful. Furthermore, it evokes patriotic, romantic and religious sentiments and serves to unite a community by lending it a public voice.” Indeed, a free-swinging metal clapper pendulum rings the bell, but a separate flattened piece of metal tapping the outside gave out the mournful news that someone had died. Belfries in church steeples became a staple and remain so until this day as a symbol of communication if no longer a used one. The downside of the bell is the use associated with the plantation system during and after slavery, where workers’ very lives were dictated by the ringing of bells. ANYBODY HAVE THE TIME? The prevalence of wrist watches, clocks

within cell phones, wall clocks and the like nowadays belie the absence of accurate knowledge of the simple time of day experienced on campuses at the turn of the 20th century. Few teachers and virtually no students had watches before World War II. Schools and colleges used the mechanical bell system to indicate class changes long before the arrival of electronic bells and buzzers. School headmasters and principals used hand-held bells, but large college campuses resorted to large-sized bells routinely perched in bell towers. Those bells not only signal time to change classes but when to get up, when to eat, and at the close of the day, when to go to bed. This bell-ringing practice became obsolete with the arrival of modern technology. BELL RINGERS WERE BMOCs Something has to be said about campus bell ringers back in the day. These were handpicked, highly reliable male students who earned the respect and trust of the administration. Being a campus bell ringer was a very coveted position. The chosen ones were Big Men on Cam-

pus, or BMOCs. A non-reliable bell ringer could wreak havoc on a college campus. Sometimes bell ringing actually did go awry. WHODUNIT? An incident in the annals of Jackson State says one Halloween night, a group of pranksters tied a cow’s tail to the bell rope. They then spooked the cow into a circular path around the bell tower. The startled bovine ran one way and then the other, ringing the bell loudly as it cavorted, causing pandemonium among sleepy campus residents. They didn’t know whether to get up, go to bed, come to breakfast or change classes! To this day, no one has stepped forward and claimed responsibility for that bell-ringing debacle. Maybe Dr. Dollye M.E. Robinson (’48) or the campus historian will tell all at the next bell-ringing ceremony. Surely, one of them was here at that time. Dr. Hilliard L. Lackey III is the campus historian and president of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association Inc.

Dr. Hilliard Lackey III demonstrates ringing the Centennial Bell, which is located on the green in front of Ayer Hall, the oldest building on campus. A bell-ringing ceremony is held each year in October following the Founders’ Day Convocation.

ON THE YARD: A LOOK BACK Jackson State University has grown from offering classes in skilled trades to offering world-class research facilities that prepare students to become scientists and engineers. Its homecoming festivities have grown from parading through campus to events that are held throughout the city of Jackson. On the following pages, take a look back to see just how much Jackson State has grown.

Dr. Charles Ayer served as the ďŹ rst president of Natchez Seminary from 1877 to 1894.

Five students made up the graduating class of Jackson College in 1904.

The Jackson College Tigers donned leather helmets to play football in 1925.

Female students at Jackson College learn how to sew in the dressmaking department in 1925.

Jackson College for Negro Teachers students learn how to make cabinets in 1952.

In 1952, students at Jackson College for Negro Teachers learned brick masonry in class.

Jackson State College campus beauties dressed in formal gowns in 1961.

Jackson State College students mix chemicals in a lab in 1973.

Students at Jackson College for Negro Teachers relax on a foot bridge in the botanical gardens in 1952 behind then-President Jacob L. Reddix’s home.

Miss Jackson State College Eddie Jean McDonald (Carr) and her court parade in front of the Jacob L. Reddix Campus Union in the 1970s. John R. Lynch Street once ran through campus and was open to automobile traffic. That part of the street is now known as Gibbs-Green Plaza.

Jackson State College students socialize on campus in the 1970s.

Jackson State College’s Prancing J-Settes entertain the crowd at a football game in 1973.


Jacksonians Kevin Lawrence, Whitney Nowlin and Mike Kreger Jr. enjoy a break from classes in the lobby of the newly renovated John W. Dixon Hall.




Age: 20

Age: 20

Age: 19

Hometown: Belzoni, Miss.

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Hometown: Violet, La.

High school: Humphreys County High School

High school: Skyline High School

High school: St. Bernard High School

Classification: junior

Classification: sophomore

Classification: freshman

Major: accounting

Major: business administration

Major: finance

Career goal: certified public accountant

Career goal: business owner

Career goal: Realtor

BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON ackson State University is the college of choice for a growing number of students. Enrollment has increased consistently over the past 10 years, from 6,218 during the 1996–97 academic year to 8,256 in 2006–07. Eighty-four percent of JSU’s student body in 2006 hailed from surrounding communities, with the largest contingency coming from Hinds County and Rankin, Madison, Copiah and Warren counties. The remaining 16 percent hailed from places as nearby as Louisiana, Georgia and Illinois, to as far away as Canada and India. Students cite class size, proximity to home, scholarships and academic offerings among their top reasons for enrolling at Jackson State. But Linda Rush, director of undergraduate recruitment, knows her staff is key to attracting students. “It is all about making a true connection with the students,” says Rush, who graduated from JSU in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and in 1998 with a master’s degree in educational administration. “We know the university … and if you take blood from us and magnify it, you’ll see little tigers. Our blood is blue.” In the following pages, learn more about some of the students who have chosen Jackson State as their alma mater. Meet Mike Kreger Jr., a poet; twins Anna and Jonathan Hodges, who are just carving out their identities as Jacksonians; Kevin Lawrence, vice president of the Student Government Association; and Whitney Nowlin, a volleyball player.


MIKE KREGER JR. Mike Kreger Jr. came to Jackson State at the suggestion of a close friend from New Orleans. The first person from either side of his family to attend college, Kreger expected a new experience. In some ways, Jackson State was more familiar than he could have predicted. “I didn’t really realize it was a black school,” says Kreger. “Actually, that made me feel more comfortable. I’m usually the only white person.” Since enrolling at Jackson State, Kreger has formed friendships with students from Alaska, Hawaii, Nigeria, Egypt and Sudan. The finance major has learned that media images of ethnic and cultural groups, specifically Middle Easterners, may not be true and he must be open-minded. Kreger has grown socially and professionally at Jackson State. The second-semester freshman has added published author to his list of accomplishments. Released in August 2007, “8-29-05” is a book of poetry inspired by Hurricane Katrina and Kreger’s life since the storm. It sent him to Alabama and back to Louisiana to live in a FEMA trailer with his family. “Originally, I didn’t plan on publishing,” says Kreger, 19. “I just had to get some things off my

ANNA AND JONATHAN HODGES Anna Hodges planned to attend a private Mississippi college that gave her a full scholarship, but a visit to Jackson State changed her mind. “I walked around John A. Peoples Science Building. I saw the (Gibbs-Green) Plaza and Campbell Suites and thought this would be a nice place to come to school,” says Anna, the 2007 valedictorian at South Pike High School in Magnolia, Miss., who only stopped by the campus during her twin brother’s tour. Her visit turned into a six-week stay as a participant in the National Science Foundation’s Partnership for Research and Education in Materials Program, which is designed for students hoping to pursue careers in science-related fields. While the physical campus piqued Anna’s attention, her summer study with chemistry student and Ph.D. candidate Charity Mosley sealed her destiny at Jackson State. “I just wanted a school that had a really good science department that was smaller,” Anna says. As is often the case with twins, Jonathan’s experience was similar. “All I really knew was the Sonic Boom,” says Jonathan, who had considered attending college elsewhere with many of his high school classmates. “Then Dr. (Hilliard) Lackey (III) showed me around, and I started falling in love with it. There’s something about the SWAC.” Jonathan also fell in love with the campus and the idea of taking classes in the new School of Engineering, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2008. He spent his summer in Science and Technology Access to Research and Graduate Education, or STARGE, a summer program for students interested in science. Jonathan earned a full scholarship to study en-

gineering. “We learned to build and program robots that could be used in factories,” he says. “I got a head start on everybody else over the summer.” KEVIN LAWRENCE Kevin Lawrence considered several colleges, but he always wanted to attend a historically black college or university. The personal attention from Jackson State’s faculty and staff made his decision easy. “It wasn’t like any of the other colleges that sent you letters and Christmas cards,” he says. “They called me and said, ‘Come here. Meet me.’ I could see that Jackson State cared.” Lawrence considers JSU’s campus to be small and family oriented. “I didn’t want to walk into a Twins Jonathan and Anna Hodges say Jackson State University’s class that had 60 to 70 students small classes and strong science programs made the university the perfect choice for them. there with one teacher,” he says. “It is hard enough for students to try to balance Jackson State a positive one. The 20-year-old everything on their plates at a university. volleyball player chose Jackson State after “It is good to have an instructor who cares graduating from high school. enough to say, ‘See me after class to talk about “My high school coach sent my tape to the your grade,’ or ‘I’m here if you need to sit down university, and Coach (Rose) Washington liked and talk.’ ” what she saw. She started recruiting me.” Lawrence’s busy schedule makes the balance JSU wasn’t the only school courting Nowlin or between class and social life tough. offering her a full scholarship. “Jackson State He has been active with the Student Govern- was closer and I knew more people here,” says ment Association since his freshman year and Nowlin, whose best friend, Erica Greer, would now serves as its vice president. As director not allow her to make any other decision. of social action with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity “She was calling every second of her visit Inc., the neophyte enjoys having fun on cam- to Jackson State saying, ‘You’ve got to come pus, but is quick to dispel any ideas that JSU is here,’ ” remembers Nowlin. “I knew if she liked all about good times. it, I was going to like it!” “We do have to get out of the assumption and Both are now members of the Lady Tigers stereotype that Jackson State is a party school volleyball team, along with others from their because it is not,” says Lawrence, who also is hometown. active in the Student Leadership Institute and Nowlin does not limit herself to old friendTiger Pride Connection. “The motto speaks for ships. She’s developed relationships with itself. We challenge minds and change lives.” people from different ethnic backgrounds and personal experiences. WHITNEY NOWLIN “I’ve got friends from everywhere now,” she Scholarship money and a few close friends says, naming acquaintances from Louisiana, have made Whitney Nowlin’s experience at Nebraska, Costa Rica and Africa.


mind.” More than half of the book’s 40 poems were written during late nights at the H.T. Sampson Library. “I was in there every day,” says Kreger. “After I’d finished all of my work, I’d just stay there.” Before the campus bookstore ordered its first copies of “8-29-05,” Kreger had sold dozens of books to administrators, faculty, staff and students. “The campus has been really supportive.”

BY TOMMIEA P. JACKSON he Office of University Communications launched an exciting new marketing campaign this fall, “Choose Jackson State … I did.” In its first year, the campaign features Jackson State University golf star Shasta Averyhardt, sophomore Stefania Strunk, optometrist Dr. Linda Johnson, and mentor and community volunteer Sean Perkins. Who will the campaign feature next year? Look for faculty, staff and friends of the university to tell why they chose Jackson State. “We’ve tried to highlight people who have made significant contributions in their chosen professions to demonstrate to the public that these people achieved success largely because of Jackson State,” says Anthony Dean, director of University Communications. “We believe that having Jacksonians tell their stories about the university will encourage others to do the same.” The campaign falls in line with President Ronald Mason Jr.’s Millennium Agenda and his desire to enhance the image of Jackson State. More than a year in the making, the idea for the campaign grew out of a 2006 departmental meeting of public relations, athletic media relations, TV23 and WJSU-88.5 FM staff. Pamela Berry-Palmer, marketing coordinator/ auxiliary news writer, took leadership in bringing the idea to reality when she joined the public relations staff in October 2006. “I took the ideas and expanded them to capture all the various roles Jackson State plays,” says Berry-Palmer, who chose to work at her alma mater after 12 years as a reporter and editor with The Clarion-Ledger. Her mission was to make the campaign “as organic as possible,” choosing not to hire large marketing firms outside of the campus, but rather JSU employees and alumni. Keith Collins, TV23 operations manager, wrote the upbeat “Choose Jackson State” jingle and


produced the television and radio commercials. Collins has been employed at JSU for two years. James Bowman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Jackson State in 1999, created the look with logo, newspaper, magazine and billboard advertisements. “Their love for the university came through in their work and passion for what they are doing,” says Berry-Palmer, who graduated from JSU in 2005 with a degree in English. “You can’t replicate that with just hiring a company.” Collins and Bowman are excited about their roles in this campaign. “I’m just glad to be a part of the team,” Collins says modestly. “To be able to improve on JSU’s image by conceptualizing an idea that is simple but effective means a lot to me,” says Bowman. “I am grateful to have this opportunity to give back to my alma mater through graphic design. I love expressing my ideas through visual communication, which to me is soul food for the mind.” Chief of Staff Evola Bates, who chose Jackson State in 2000, says the music was her favorite part of the campaign. “The jingle stays in your head,” Bates says before singing a few bars. “It was more than I expected. For it to have been created by our own people just shows why you should choose us … for education, football, to work. Once you choose us, we challenge minds and change lives.” Dean chose to return to Jackson State in 2004, having served as general manager of WJSU from 1982–92. “There are so many benefits from working at an institution that is making a very positive impact not only on the city but the world,” Dean says. “We have leaders in every field and that is important. Jackson State is not only a great place for students, but faculty and staff as well. You come here not just for a degree but for a career.” See the ad featuring Dr. Linda Johnson on the inside front cover of this magazine.

Evola Bates, chief of staff

Anthony Dean, director of University Communications

Pamela Berry-Palmer, marketing coordinator/ auxiliary news writer

Keith Collins, TV23 operations manager

James Bowman, graphic artist

Separated by distinct backgrounds and life experiences, yet connected by a lasting enchantment and unyielding loyalty to Jackson State University, these four spirited, engaging and noteworthy individuals each illustrate what it means to be a “true blue” JSU fan. BY PAMELA BERRY-PALMER For Jackson resident Robert Cook, Jackson State University has grown into a personal ministry. More than 30 years ago, when Cook was a high school senior in Magnolia, Miss., a guidance counselor predicted the teen wouldn’t be able to succeed in college. “I was told this, even though I was an honor student at the time,” Cook says. “Thankfully, Jackson State was there and became that safety net to nurture me and to help me grow and give me an opportunity. “At JSU, I got the love and nurturing to become who I am today. Because of that, it is essential that I be involved with Jackson State so that the young men and women coming up behind me have an even greater opportunity than I had. It’s a ministry to me, and I’ve been blessed beyond measure as a result of that.” Cook, who graduated in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, is now the deputy director of the Mis-

sissippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. When he’s not conserving and enhancing Mississippi’s natural resources, he’s doggedly supporting and promoting Jackson State. “Whenever I’m there, I still feel this sense of family. I cannot drive or walk through the campus without having memories of my time there rekindled,” says the 52year-old. “It’s just something about the HBCU (historically black college and university) experience.” Cook says even when he doesn’t say a word about his allegiance to JSU, he still finds ways to make sure others know about it. “I have something JSU on my car. When you come to my office, I have tigers everywhere and all kinds of JSU paraphernalia,” he says. “I don’t have any casual clothing that doesn’t have something JSU-related on it, and I even have a JSU screen saver of the new student union. Even when I’m dressed up and if it’s not a black tie, I’m going to have on a JSU lapel pin. People kind of get a clue after a period of time that I just love Jackson State.”

Jasmene Frazier is proud of the fact she is a walking, the JSU mascot. “I remember when the Capital City Classic was the talking advertisement for Jackson State University. “I support JSU 360 degrees!” says the Jackson, Soul Bowl, and we played that game on Thanksgiving Miss., native. “Whether it’s a high-school student Day,” she says. “Those were the good ole days.” With Frazier’s obvious adoration of JSU, friends and who’s trying to decide on what college to attend, or a parent trying to assist a child in that important de- family have learned not to plan anything special on cision regarding higher learning, I always push JSU Saturdays during football season because she will be first. The university is a wise decision for any student, at the game. “If any friends or family members want to hang with whether it is pertaining to academics or athletics.” It’s no surprise that Frazier’s blood runs blue, con- me on a Saturday during JSU football, I’d get them a sidering her JSU experiences began at the tender age ticket so they can come to the game. I tell all of my girlfriends that if they plan to get married and want of 4. “My family lived on West Silas Brown, so we were me to be at the wedding, they better plan the wedwithin walking distance of the school,” says Frazier, ding around JSU’s football schedule.” Frazier says her JSU support isn’t limited to only who graduated from Jackson State in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. “I remem- “fair weather” seasons. “I was there when we dominated the SWAC in most ber walking over to the campus to watch the band and the football team practice. From there, the love sports, and I was also one of the 1,000 fans who was at the Jackson State versus Arkansas Pine-Bluff game affair started.” Frazier’s early memories also include parades where in 2005…you remember that one…probably the lowthe Sonic Boom would perform, as well as attending est attended football game in JSU history,” says the games at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium, member of the Blue Bengal Athletic Association. where she and others sat on “seats that were filled with fiberglass.” “If we moved too much on those seats, our bottoms paid for it,” she says. Growing up as a tiger in training, Frazier says, also meant halftime performances and appearances by


As a transfer student to Jackson State University thing about Jackson State and the Sonic Boom … it in 1984, Shelly Hart lovingly remembers how she just gave me goose bumps.” and her twin sister, Shirley, quickly became known After getting a taste of the spirited football games, around campus – “Twin A and Twin B.” Hart says she just had to become a part of it herself. “I was Twin A because I am the oldest,” Hart says “Growing up, I always knew I had to get an educawith a chuckle. tion, and that has a lot to do with my mom,” she says. As she got older, the nickname faded, but the “She kind of had it hard with six children, although strong family-like connection Hart felt to Jackson she had help from grandparents, uncles and aunts. State never did. But my mom instilled in us the value of an education Since making the leap from student to alumna in because she wanted us to have a better life. And 1987 when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree Jackson State was a great place to start my higher in urban affairs, Hart has busied herself with tire- education.” lessly promoting the university. Those early life lessons also included the imporHighlights of her post-graduation accomplish- tance of giving back. ments include serving as the president of the Jack- “When you learn about the things that were hapson State University Huntsville Alumni Chapter from pening in the 1940s and ’50s, you learn how our 2001–05, and designing a JSU football helmet logo black elderly had to fight to ensure Jackson State in 2002. Hart also is a regular contributor to various would be here for the next generation. If it hadn’t JSU causes, including the JSU department of music, been for them, many of us wouldn’t have made it the athletics department and the JSU Development where we are today,” Hart says. Foundation. Even in Alabama, Hart says she always Hart says it’s all just her way of acknowledgtries to make sure her “true blue” fan ing an institution that was an “important elespirit comes through. ment in my life.” “I work around people who are alumni “I think you should recognize it not only from places like Ole Miss, Mississippi by giving your time, but by giving resourcState and the University of Alabama,” es,” says the native of Magnolia, Miss. she says. “But everybody in the ofHart’s love affair with JSU began as a fice also knows about Jackson State child, she says. because I have my pictures up of the “I used to pay attention to all the uniSonic Boom and the football team.” versities like Grambling, Southern and Alcorn,” Hart says. “But it was just some-

Don’t ever invite Calvin Younger to any sporting events related to Alcorn State University, Southern University or even Mississippi Valley, unless, he says, they are playing against Jackson State University. “My heart is just with Jackson State,” Younger says. “I am a true blue JSU fan.” Younger says as a kid growing up in Yazoo City, Miss., he grew to love Jackson State. When he was old enough to attend, he visited the campus on a recruiting trip in the mid-1980s when JSU won a series of championships under then-Coach W.C. Gorden. “I just remember the atmosphere of the football games as the band is playing ‘Get Ready,’ and the football players come out and look into the stand and see all the blue and white. It would almost send chills throughout my body.” Although Younger didn’t complete his business management studies at JSU when he attended from 1983–86, he never lost that intense feeling of love for the university. “Anytime I’m traveling or on vacation, it’s always about Jackson State. Everywhere I go, I’m toting our pom-poms and showing support. I just think that it lets people know who you are because you never know when you are running into alumni. I’m always showing that I’m a part of the blue and white family.” Sometimes, Younger admits that showing his love for the university has resulted in heated public displays at sporting events. “At basketball games, I’m probably the loudest someone in the gym with the referees,” he says. “I used to be a vulgar basketball fan. I used to be especially hard on referees. I know them and they know me. But my heart is just Jackson State. It’s especially hard on me when we lose a ballgame. I’m anxious and upset until the next game so we can come back with a victory.”

At the heart of the extreme sports fan, Younger says, is an intense desire to support a program that helps student athletes succeed. It miffs the former JSU Tigers quarterback when those same athletes gain success and fame beyond college but fail to give back to JSU. “I just wonder why that is. I’m hoping that one day we can grow our fans so that we will be able to have big athletic bashes like Mississippi State and Ole Miss have each year,” he says. Younger also says it’s important to him that his family support JSU as well. “I have three kids….Jeremy, 13, Bria, 11, and Calvin, 9, and they all understand that Jackson State is their only choice for college,” he says. “I don’t say that in a harsh way. I say that because historically our kids need to be more involved in their history when they are in undergraduate. When they go to graduate school, then that’s their choice.”


JSU TAUGHT LAWMAKERS TO LEAD, SERVE A U.S. congressman and several Mississippi legislators are accomplished alumni of Jackson State University. In the following pages, these successful professionals share how their education and experiences at Jackson State prepared them to be where they are today. BY RIVA BROWN

Sen. Hillman T. Frazier Second District U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson Master’s, educational administration, 1972 “JSU gave me more than a formal education. It was a sort of training ground for my career in public service after my exposure to civil rights icons at Tougaloo. The faculty at JSU was excellent and really took a special interest in the students – an 28 interest that most faculty at most universities fail to capture. Today, they still embody that characteristic. Looking back, I made the right choice by choosing Jackson State.”

Bachelor’s, political science, 1971 “I was very fortunate to have some of the best Rep. Angela Cockerham teachers in the world at Jackson State. They Bachelor’s, English, 1999 taught me, first of all, to believe in myself and that I could make a contribution to society. They “While I attended Jackson State, I truly enjoyed also taught me lifelong skills that have enabled serving in the community. I performed commume to be successful in the legislative branch of nity service, and I especially enjoyed serving as government. They taught me to crystallize my vi- a literacy tutor. Today, I am still service-oriented. sion. They played a big role in equipping me for Through serving in the Mississippi Legislature, I the job I do today.” have the opportunity to make sure that my constituents and everyone in the state of Mississippi have a better way of life.”

Sen. Alice Varnado Harden Rep. Earle S. Banks Bachelor’s, accounting, 1977

Bachelor’s, health, physical education and recreation, 1970; masters, HPER, 1976

“Jackson State truly enriched my development. “My experiences at Jackson State helped me to Sen. Johnnie E. Walls Jr. First of all, I got to interact with fellow students understand the world in which I live. It gave me Bachelor’s, biology (chemistry minor), 1968 and meet people from around the world. That the leadership development skills I needed to helped me to realize the differences in values foster a career in public service. Jackson State “I didn’t really know much about the world at all and traditions and the various things people are taught me how to deal with different people from until I went to Jackson State. I learned my basics focused on, whether it’s their family, education, various races, genders and other countries, and to at the university, not only just coursework but also work habits or sense of community. I also had bring people together to support a common goal. just being able to relate to people and learning wonderful professors who not only taught me the But most of all, Jackson State taught me who I about what I would be faced with in the future. lessons of the books in the class, but they also am, that I could do anything I wanted to do, and I have to say that the basic foundation I really taught the lessons of life in the real world. I take that the world was not too big for me to dream received came from Jackson State. It didn’t all those lessons with me everyday, especially when I big dreams.” make sense until I got to Jackson State. It was a go to the Capitol to make decisions that will affect good experience.” the people in Mississippi.”


Rep. George Flaggs Jr. Rep. Walter Robinson Jr.

Bachelor’s, industrial technology, 1984

Master’s, guidance and counseling, 1972 “It gives you the background, and it gives you insight on dealing with people and people’s needs. My district is basically a black district. We know the things they need better than anyone else, and we can represent our district better than anyone.”

“It made all the difference in the world. Had it not Rep. Gregory L. Holloway Sr. been for Jackson State, I would not have been able Master’s, public policy and administration, 1998 to reach some of the accomplishments I’ve been able to reach in the Legislature. That’s because “It gave me the background I needed to be proficient Jackson State gave me a very diverse perspective and efficient in what I do. It helped me to underon public policy. All that I am and all that I will ever stand and navigate through the legislative process be, I owe it to thee.” to be successful in what I do. Without that understanding, I would be nowhere close to where I am now in the process. It’s a process where there is a lot of compromise, and you have to work well with people and have good human relations skills, as well as other skills, to work with a large number of people.”

Rep. Rufus E. Straughter Master’s, school administration, 1993 “Being a state representative, there are a lot of Sen. John A. Horhn 29 issues that we have to deal with, and many of those issues focus on HBCUs. Having attended “I did not earn a degree from Jackson State UniverJackson State helped me to do a better job in sity, but I attended a Community Leadership Develputting forth an effort to make sure HBCUs get what opment training course there during the summer of they deserve in the legislative process in terms of 1979, which was extremely helpful in sharpening Rep. Credell Calhoun appropriations. When you start comparing them to my leadership skills. It helped me with proposal Specialist, guidance counseling, 1976 bigger schools in the state, we have to make sure writing, research and group dynamics, and it was JSU and other HBCUs get their fair share. Being a an excellent networking opportunity.” “It taught me how to read people, figure out how graduate of Jackson State provokes you to work a to best serve them, and make them happy about little bit harder to make those things happen.” what I was trying to do for them. That’s the basic psychology of counseling. I learned all of that while I was in the guidance counseling program.”

Rep. Erik R. Fleming Bachelor’s, political science, 1987

Sen. Joseph C. Thomas Bachelor’s, business administration, 1972 “My education made it possible for me to be the first black loan officer in Mississippi at Delta National Bank in Yazoo City in 1973. I worked there for 30 years and then I ran for the Senate seat. The experiences I had in my banking career helped me to become a state senator.”

“Jackson State is the reason why I’m in Mississippi in the first place. It gave me the opportunity to have a college education and because of that experience, Rep. Clara Henderson Burnett it helped me to understand Mississippi a lot better. Bachelor’s, elementary education, 1963 I felt I owed something back to Mississippi and Jackson State, and that’s why I stayed and got into “I think I got a fairly good education at Jackson politics.” State that really prepares you to do pretty much Note: Fleming will leave office in January 2008. anything.”


Once a queen, always a queen. Well, at least in regards to four Jackson State University alumnae, who have graced our campus with their beauty, poise and intellect throughout four decades. Here’s what some of them are up to now. BY EDDIE L. BROWN JR.

At 95, Helen L. Washington Griffin is the “most seasoned” alumnae queen. She still remembers the name of every person in her class – all 10 students. Many of her classmates – including her closest friend, Miriam, the daughter of fourth president Dr. B. Baldwin Dansby – are deceased. “I’m doing pretty good, though,” the San Francisco resident says. “I can still get around.” Griffin practically grew up on the campus of then-Jackson College. “I went to school from kindergarten all the way up to college on that campus,” she recalls. “We called it ‘practice school,’ which is where Jackson College students would teach us.” After graduating in 1934 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Griffin later received her master’s degree in mathematics in 1958 from Atlanta University. She earned it during the summers while teaching at Jim Hill and Lanier high schools in Jackson, Miss. After marrying Dorsey W. Griffin, she received another master’s degree in library science from San Francisco University in the 1970s. Her most memorable moment serving as Miss Jackson College came after her official reign. She and other former Miss JSUs organized the Alumni Queens Association to support the current queen. “Many times, we would recruit students to the university and we’d pay their tuition,” she recalls.

Dr. Robbie Barnes Bingham spends much of her For Eddie Jean McDonald Carr, Jackson State time writing poetry and reflecting on her years as College was as a refuge from the sharecropping Miss Jackson State College in the mid-1950s. life in Magee, Miss. “I was very active in extracurricular activities, so “My goal was to never be a sharecropper. We others encouraged me to pursue Miss Jackson were taught the best way to be successful was to State College,” says the native of Hopewell, near get an education,” she says. Collins, Miss. During her freshman year, Carr met Mamie “I didn’t have the money to pursue that kind of (Hanshaw) Thomas, Miss Jackson State College, ‘class.’ I worried about how I’d get the coronation 1967-68. gown and suits I needed to represent the school.” “She was the ideal role model for freshmen womBingham’s sister gave her a navy blue suit so en,” Carr recalls. “She was beautiful and talented. she could look the part. Everyone could relate to her.” “Ever since then, things have worked out beautiOnce senior year came, her first impression of fully for me,” the 71-year-old says. Thomas encouraged her to try her hand at camAfter leaving Jackson State, Bingham was a paigning for the coveted title. teacher and librarian at Jim Hill Junior and Senior “I was always one of those kids who wanted to High School and Jackson State. make my parents proud,” says Carr, the first AfriShe received a master’s degree in library sci- can American elected as Hinds County Chancery ence from Atlanta University and earned a doctor- Court clerk. ate from Rutgers University in 1975. Carr says her fondest memory as Miss Jackson “I didn’t get good grades in journalism and writ- State College was coronation. ing, but I think if my professor saw my work now, “We deviated from the white coronation gown. he would have changed my grade.” Everyone, including then-President Dr. John Peoples, wore traditional African attire,” recalls the former city clerk for the city of Jackson, Miss. “I was not a part of the (civil rights) movement, but I did want to articulate that as young black kids, we were proud of who we were.”

Mechelle Dunnings Harris came to Jackson State University on a band scholarship. “I remember seeing the Boom at our high school’s championship game,” says the Monroe, La., native. “I knew then I had to go to JSU.” Unaware that she would become Miss JSU, Harris majored in accounting and played the alto saxophone in the band. “I was selected to represent the (Alpha Kappa Alpha) sorority as a candidate. I also had the support of the band, so I won.” For the past five years, Harris has been serving as head of the department of business at Louisiana Technical College in Monroe. Before entering the academic world, she worked as an accounting manager for a hospital chain in Shreveport and Monroe for more than 15 years. Currently, she is working on her second master’s degree in teaching at Louisiana Tech University, and she plans to pursue a doctorate in education. “It seems I can’t get enough of school.” A mother of two, Harris spends her time keeping up with 16-year-old DJ’s football and wrestling practices and 7-year-old Tia’s basketball and dance practices. Harris says she is constantly recruiting for JSU. “As a product of an HBCU, particularly JSU, it has been instilled in us to assist others. I would like to believe every Jacksonian feels, or is aware of, that internal ‘charge’ to uplift those around us.”

Mother, daughter prance as J-Settes BY EDDIE L. BROWN JR.

Frances Ashley and her daughter, Chloé, share a common bond: They both have danced at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium as Prancing J-Settes.

rances Ashley and her daughter, Chloé, are close. They have the same pleasant smile and share an intense love for Jackson State University. That love inspired both to become a part of a growing tradition of talented dancers. The Ashleys, of Jackson, Miss., are the only mother-daughter duo in the university’s history to become Prancing J-Settes. Frances, originally on a music scholarship, decided to audition for the J-Sette line instead of play an instrument in the band. “I was quiet, reserved and really couldn’t dance,” says Frances, who graduated in the early 1980s. “I twirled and was on the flag line in high school, but we marched drum corps style. No one in my family believed I made it until I got a letter telling me to report to band camp.” Becoming a J-Sette was just the beginning, says Frances, a court administrator for Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green. “For every performance, you must audition for a spot on the field. Fortunately, I always made the first cut.” Frances gets goose bumps thinking about her first time dancing at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I had that heavy cape draped around my neck, and the drum majors were be-


hind us,” she says. “I had tears in my eyes.” “I don’t know if it was because I was excited to finally be a part of the Sonic Boom of the South or because I was a Prancing J-Sette. It is a joy, an honor and a blessing to see my daughter follow in my footsteps.” Chloé, 20, grew up attending JSU football games, but she never imagined dancing with the J-Settes until her senior year at Murrah High School. Frances and her husband, Darek, were nervous about their daughter’s decision to audition. They didn’t want anyone to think Chloé had an unfair advantage because her mother was a J-Sette. “It was so rewarding to sit in the audience and watch her audition for something she really wanted and to know she made it on her own,” Frances says. J-Sette tryouts, open to the student body, were intimidating, says Chloé, a junior economics major. “But I made the first-round cut, so that was a big accomplishment for me coming out of high school.” Chloé never worried about whether people thought she was given a spot. “It wasn’t spoonfed to me. No one can make cuts for you. No one can do the moves and execute for you.” Now, Frances challenges Chloé to pick her

spot on the field and remain in it. She does the same thing with her youngest daughter, Mea, who dances on the drill team at Murrah High and also wants to become a J-Sette. Cathy Worthy, the squad’s current sponsor and former J-Sette captain during Frances’ tenure, says Frances and Chloé are similar dancers. “Whatever the move, Frances did it very clean and precise. Chloé is the same way. Her remarkable memory allows her to pick up techniques very easily. Her movements are so natural.” Both Ashleys say many people take for granted what is required of a J-Sette. Chloé recalls demanding rehearsals during band camp. “As an incoming freshman, band camp breaks you completely down and builds you back up from the ground,” she says. “There was a point where I wondered what I got myself into, but I never imagined quitting.” Frances remembers practicing until late hours at night. “We ran twice a day and lifted weights in addition to keeping our grades up and attending classes,” says Frances, who earned a degree in political science. “Then we had to look like something when we walked around on campus. We had to conduct ourselves as respectable, young college females.”


Arnold Lindsay talks about his love for blues music from his home in Jackson, Miss.

News reporter, blues singer belts out tunes about real life BY ARNOLD LINDSAY learned the blues early in life, tagging along with my uncles and great uncles as a child. My uncle, David Conston, would let me play his Old Kraftsman guitar back then, telling me to talk to it, like I was talking to my girlfriend. Sometimes I’d ask her, “What’s wrong, baby? Why you actin’ mad at me? Come on and give me a happy sound. Help put your daddy’s poor mind at ease.” Sometimes Uncle David would blow his harmonica along with me, picking that old, raggedy, blue guitar. And I would create stuff off the top of my head, singing about my imaginary girlfriends who had done me wrong – and the ones who had done me right. I will never forget the memories of Uncle David, sipping his “smiley,” that Old Forrester whiskey, telling this young kid how to sing the


blues. When I wasn’t hanging around Uncle David, I was on Jackson’s Farish Street, the historic black community where everyday, all day, there was blues blaring from the juke boxes of the many cafes. Folks sat and drank Schlitz beer, Champale and now and then, a little nip from the eighth of whiskey in their hip pockets. Years later, those fond memories and my passion for singing the blues led me to form the Arnold Lindsay Blues Band. My CD, “My Name Is The Blues,” was released in July 2005, and it has had excellent airplay for a new artist. My song, “Bad Night,” placed as one of five finalists in blues in the 2006 Independent Music Awards. The IMA contest draws the best of unsigned professional artists from around the world. My debut CD is a collaboration of original music I wrote; my friend

wrote one song, “Raining In The Delta.” I am forever grateful to Uncle David and my great-uncle, Calton “Moonie” Conston, for teaching me the true meaning of the blues. I also am grateful to Jackson State University for giving me a solid musical foundation. I played string bass in the JSU orchestra on a music scholarship. When I was a young college kid who didn’t know what I was looking for, former instructor and orchestra leader J.J. Sampson trained me in the classical aspects of music. In one semester, Mr. Sampson schooled me to the point where he thought I should try for a scholarship. I went before the panel, passed, and the rest is history. I owe so much thanks to Mr. Sampson for the countless hours he spent with me, training me to become a bassist. And I owe thanks to my school and the leaders of the music department, Dr. Jimmie James and Dr. Dollye Robinson, for having the faith in me to allow me to be an orchestral bassist back then. I graduated in 1987 with a major in print journalism and a minor in music. I work through the day as a journalist for The Clarion-Ledger, but the weekends and nights belong to the blues. My band has played in numerous venues since mid-2006, including the Jubilee!JAM, 930 Blues Café, Hal & Mal’s, the Crawdad Hole, Blue Room Lounge, the Countdown to 2006 New Year’s Eve Party at Handy Park in Memphis on Beale Street and the local Bach to Blues series. Contact Arnold Lindsay at 601-209-7707 or 601-981-5580, or buy his CD at www.cdbaby. com/arnoldlindsay.

Arnold Lindsay’s CD, “My Name Is The Blues,” was released in July 2005 and has had excellent airplay for a new artist. His song, “Bad Night,” placed as one of five finalists in blues in the 2006 Independent Music Awards.

Her voice has been described by David Dye, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, World Café, as “so gorgeous.” Music critic and columnist Michelle Mercer calls her singing “virtuosic, authentic and enchanting.”

BY GINA P. CARTER Time magazine once called her the best singer in America – though she thinks the title should go to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. That voice belongs to Blue Note Records recording artist and Jackson State University alumna Cassandra Wilson. Wilson’s college classmate, Dale Morris, has fond memories of her from the late ’70s and early ’80s when they were juniors and seniors. He says her voice had the same warmth and mellowness then as it does now. Wilson graduated cum laude from Jackson State in 1980 with a degree in mass communications. By day, she was a learned student. By night, she performed with R&B, funk and pop cover bands, singing in local clubs. “Cassandra used to perform on Lynch Street at a jazz club there. To this

date, that remains to be some of the best jazz I’ve ever heard,” Morris remembers. “At that time, Cassandra had the maturity of a Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. Her phrasing was very deliberate but not predictable … very laid back but energetic.” Morris knows music. He is a highly regarded bass player in Jackson and is the station engineer for WJSU-FM 88.5, the public radio jazz station licensed to Jackson State. Morris holds Wilson in high regard for her musical knowledge. “Another thing about her is that she really knows jazz. She knows the history, inner workings and various periods and how they relate and intertwine. In all that she performs, you still hear who she is – a jazz singer.” “New Moon Daughter,” for which Wilson won a Grammy in 1996, features novel versions of tracks from U2, Hank Williams and The Monkees. Then there’s the 2003 “Glamoured,” which showcases songs by Muddy Waters, Sting and Willie Nelson with an exotic freshness. A jazz singer performing country and rock songs prompted one critic to say

Wilson “displays a disdain for convention,” a categorization she does not mind. “The best music happens when we break the rules,” Wilson acknowledges. NO PLACE LIKE HOME When Wilson isn’t breaking the rules, she likes to return to the city where she was born and reared – Jackson, Miss. In an interview on National Public Radio’s “News and Notes” with former host Ed Gordon, the 50-something Wilson says there’s no place like home. “I really love my home. I love Mississippi. I love the South. I love our way of life,” Wilson tells Gordon. No one doubts her love for Mississippi. In fact, she paid respect to her home state by recording the critically acclaimed “Belly of the Sun” in an abandoned train station in Clarksdale, Miss. Wilson actively recruited local musicians for the project. One was the late blues pianist Boogaloo Ames. “Prior to recording in Clarksdale, I inquired about any elders in the region who might be interested in performing on the project,” Wilson says. “I made contact with Mr. Ames through Donald Thomas, my production coordinator, and Eden Brent, Mr. Ames’ partner and collaborator. The experience (working with Ames) was both revelatory and inspirational.” Ames was 80 when he recorded with Wilson. He accompanies the singer on “Darkness on the Delta.” One music critic made this statement about 2002’s “Belly of the Sun”: “Though the album has a blues backbone, Wilson denies being a blues singer.” Wilson carefully explains why she made the denial. “I have too much respect for the discipline to claim to be an adept. The blues is often viewed as simplistic and nd inferior to t jazz,” she

says. “In my experience, this is by no means true. With the blues, you must be able to pinpoint specific emotions and get to the heart of a subject quickly, through poetry and music. It is an art form that requires years of apprenticeship and study. If I am blessed with good teachers like Boogaloo Ames and continue to study the music through a deeper appreciation of my homeland, I hope to someday be considered a blues singer.” THE WILSON, RICHMOND BOND Wilson came home in July for fellow jazz singer Rhonda Richmond’s Rhythm and Strings CD release party. Wilson considers Richmond a true friend. Richmond appears on “Belly of the Sun” as composer for “Road So Clear.” “Music has been the glue that has kept us friends all these years,” Richmond says of her childhood friend. Richmond and Wilson grew up in the Shady Oaks community in Jackson. At Powell Junior High School, they were in the marching band together. Richmond played trombone; Wilson played the clarinet. Desegregation happened and the two parted ways. Wilson attended Murrah High School, while Richmond enrolled at Callaway High School. Wilson and Richmond reconnected at Jackson State, where they formed a female group called Past, Present and Future. The group of Jackson State students consisted of Wilson, vocals/guitar; Richmond, blues and jazz violin; Nellie McGinnis, bass; and Niecie Evers, percussion. Internships, careers and relocation of some of the members caused Past, Present and Future to be, well, something of the past. Evers is the only former group member who is no longer in the music business. McGinnis worked with Richmond as a bass player on her last two music

projects, and Richmond is the premiere artist on Wilson’s record label. On a visit to Mississippi, Wilson heard the Richmond tune “Oshogbo Town.” This became the name of the album Richmond would release in 2003 on Wilson’s record label, Ojah Media Group. Wilson produced Richmond’s second Ojah album, “Rhythm and Strings,” which was completed this summer. At the recent CD release party, Wilson introduced Richmond, like a proud parent, to the crowd of more than 200 invited guests. Wilson remained unnoticed for the first few minutes of the event. She seemed to blend in so perfectly. Her blond dreadlocks were about 3 inches shorter than depicted on the cover of her most recent “Thunderbird” CD. Once fans realized who she was, they requested a photograph with her. She graciously accommodated them all. Wilson’s friends say fame has not changed her. Perhaps that’s true. One person in attendance addressed her as “Ms. Wilson.” She responded, “No, call me Cassandra,” with a polite smile. That Tuesday evening, as the party began dying down, people whispered, “Is she going to sing?” But Wilson wanted to keep the focus on Richmond. After all, this was her night. During Richmond’s second set, she and Wilson improvised lyrics to the childhood ring song, “Little Sally Walker.” When asked what she wants people to take away from her music, Wilson says, “I want people to come away from the experience with the knowledge that what they have just experienced will never be replicated. I want them to feel as if that concert was designed specifically for them on that night in that space.” Gina P. Carter is the assistant general manager and development director for WJSU-FM 88.5. Listen to WJSU online at

Rhonda Richmond and Cassandra Wilson belt out a tune at the Rhythm and Strings CD release party in July.

CLASS NOTES ’70s ROBERT NAYLOR (’77), a Meridian, Miss., native, serves as the director of career development for the Global News division of The Associated Press, based in New York. BERNA GREER (’79), a native of Louisville, Miss., has brokered a deal for her employer to donate a Chrysler Aspen SUV to the Jackson State University National Alumni Association Inc. She is a senior field auditor for Daimler Chrysler Corp. and is the first and only African-American female auditor employed by the company.

BARBARA MOORE (’92), a native of Natchez, Miss., has been hired as neighborhood and community relations coordinator for the city of College Station, Texas. Her primary duties will include facilitating the development of new neighborhood associations, coordinating and facilitating information between the city and neighborhood associations, and assisting in the resolution of neighborhood issues. GEN. LEON COLLINS (’93) of Jackson, Miss., was recently appointed to the state Workers’ Compensation Commission by Gov. Haley Barbour. Collins, a Booneville, Miss., native, will serve the remainder of an unexpired term ending Dec. 31, 2008. The commission administers and enforces the Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Law. He is the 2006 recipient of the Mississippi “Trailblazer of the Year” award and was commended by the Mississippi Legislature.


JÁ HON VANCE (’93, ’97, ’98), a native of Detroit, Mich., was one of 40 educators worldwide selected to participate in the distinguished Oxford Round Table in England. Vance, an English professor at Baltimore City Community College in Maryland, made a presentation titled “The Historical, Religious and Spiritual Presence of Historically Black Colleges and Universities that Enhanced the Quality of Life for African Americans/Blacks in America.” Vance is the CEO and founder of JV Educational Consultants.

DR. VERNON ROSS JR. (’82), a native of Utica, Miss., was recently appointed director of Learning Management and Technical Development at Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Services in Gaithersburg, Md. He will oversee the management of all training-related systems, processes, people and politics, as well as the technical development of more than 50,000 employees.

THEOPHILUS C. KING (’98, ’02) of Jackson, Miss., a Provine High School administrator, spent the summer as a faculty member of The Principals’ Summer Institute at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Mass. King facilitated smallgroup discussions and reflections classes. He has participated in the institute twice as a student in 2004 and 2006.

JENNIFER SMITH LOVE (’83) of Laurel, Md., recently was named special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office Criminal Division of the FBI. The 19-year veteran of the FBI manages and directs all FBI investigative programs focused on financial, violent, computer, drug-related and organized crimes; public corruption; and violation of individual civil rights handled in Washington, D.C., and in northern Virginia. RONNIE R. CAVETT (’84) of Dallas, Texas, is the 2007 winner of the Dallas Metroplex Council of Black Alumni Associations’ Alumnus of the Year Meritorious Service Award.

’00s RALPH V. CLARK II (’03) of Jackson, Miss., a financial adviser with MetLife Financial Services in Jackson, has attained the company’s status of “Super Starter,” which recognizes outstanding production by newly hired producers during their first quarter of active service with MetLife.

MICHAEL SMITH (’86) recently was named vice president and loan officer at BankPlus’ Terry Road office. He has 21 years in banking.

GREGORY OLIVER VAUGHN (’03), a native of Meridian, Miss., earned a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center during its 51st commencement exercises. He is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society and is in residence training at UMC.


YVONNE RAYFORD BROWN (’07), mayor of Tchula, Miss., was recently appointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency’s state committee in Mississippi. Brown graduated on Aug. 4 with a bachelor’s degree in professional interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in political science.

DR. RANDY T. WARNER (’90), a Mississippi native, serves as the medical director of the adult partial program for primary (mental illness) and dual (mental illness and substance abuse) diagnosis at Tanner Medical Center in Villa Rica, Ga. He is also the medical director for the Intensive Outpatient Program.

BY GABRIELLE J. SPENCER The office of Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski, a professor of chemistry at Jackson State University, does not fit the mode of a scientist. It is neat with the exception of a few “important” papers covering a table that seats four. The shelves are filled with books – some of which he has edited or co-authored – as well as knickknacks from his family and travels. The walls, and any available space, are covered with awards from colleges and universities around the world. With nearly 17 years of extraordinary achievements in the areas of teaching, schol– arly research and service at Jackson State, Leszczynski has brought both national and international distinction to the university and its department of chemistry. This is the office of a President’s Distinguished Fellow. Leszczynski, 58, is a quiet man, never raising his voice during the conversation. His English carries a heavy Polish accent. His presence alone speaks of diversity and excellence at Jackson State. But it is his knowledge of chemistry that has taken him around the globe. “Chemistry is an area of science that gives us information about matter and the world around us. It tells us about how things are constructed,” Leszczynski says. “So if you are interested in the world, chemistry is the science that describes the world – the small building blocks of the world.” After finishing the competitive undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs at the University of Wroclaw in Wroclaw, Poland, Leszczynski began his career as an educator. In 1986, during a state of martial law, he left Poland and moved to the United States. Before joining Jackson State’s department of chemistry in 1990, Leszczynski worked for the University of Florida, Gainesville, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham. His reasoning for coming to and staying at Jackson State is honorable. “I came to Jackson State because I wanted to make a difference, and that is my reason for staying as well,” Leszczynski says. “I generally like the South. I like the climate. Jackson is a perfect compilation.” Teri Robinson, a Presidential Postdoctoral

Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says Leszczynski was instrumental as an adviser as well as a professor. “Leszczynski encouraged and challenged me in my academic program. He provided me research opportunities that cannot be beat by any other research program of its kind,” says Robinson, who earned a doctoral degree in theoretical chemistry in May 2007. “My exposure to three research collaborations and mentoring opportunities (facilitated by Leszczynski) in the Computational Center for Molecular Structure and Interactions Summer Institute was valuable. It helped shape my perspective on academia and the drive that will be needed to have a fruitful career such as his career.” The fruits of Leszczynski’s labor are relevant. His pet project, CCMSI, has benefited the university and students like Robinson. Founded in 1998, the main goal of the center is to establish a strong research and educational program in computational chemistry. “CCMSI allowed us to add two new faculty members, start the Ph.D. program, and gave us the resources needed to recruit more students and funding to the university,” Leszczynski says. “It was a unique opportunity, and it was something that Jackson State University deserved.” Since 2003, the chemistry doctoral program has produced nine

graduates, including two who teach at Jackson State. The graduate program boasts of an enrollment of 50 students. “Our departmental goal is to see that Jackson State University becomes the No. 1 producer of doctoral degrees in chemistry among African Americans,” Leszczynski says. “And we are on our way. I believe with the support from the university, this goal can be achieved within the next five years.” Globalization is also among the lists of goals Leszczynski and his colleagues want to master. “We would like to establish a global institute with some of our international partners in the next couple of years,” Leszczynski says. “The work we do here in computational chemistry has already placed JSU on the map. We want to use that to our advantage and go beyond JSU and the United States.” With all he has accomplished during his tenure at JSU, Leszczynski says his reward is found in the success of his students. “I am a teacher, so I consider my students as my greatest accomplishment. I have several students who have gone to top programs all over the U.S. and the world. But the most important thing is the research that they do and the international exchange of ideas.” This is the character of a President’sDistinguished Fellow.

Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski sits at his desk while viewing several forms of carbon molecules. This is one of the many examples of the work done in the Computational Center for Molecular Structure and Interactions lab at Jackson State University.

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1 9 6 2 CHAMPIONSHIP S Jackson State’s

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aturday, Dec. 8, 1962, seems like yesterday to Willie Richardson. The events of that day are etched into his memory. By the end of the day, it would be a defining moment in Jackson State College football. For Richardson and the other Jackson State football team members, it was simply the biggest game of their careers. In a larger sense, it was the game that ushered in an era of unprecedented success for Jackson State’s football program. A year earlier, the Tigers played the Rattlers of Florida A&M University for the first time in the 29th Annual Orange Blossom Classic. The game was played in Miami, Fla.’s Orange Bowl Stadium before a record crowd of 47,791 fans. The crowd must have seemed much larger to the Jackson State team that played its home games at the 10,000-seat Alumni Field on campus. Richardson, Jackson State’s AllAmerican wide receiver, remembers feeling like a deer caught in headlights when he first saw the FAMU team. “We had never seen anything like that,” says Richardson. “The festivities, the crowd, the parade, the fans, and for most of us, it was our first time taking a plane ride. We had never played before a crowd like that, and to be playing in the Orange Bowl was really something. It seemed like 50,000 or 60,000 people were in the stands. All-American wide receiver Willie Richardson was honored at “Willie Richardson Day” in his hometown of Greenville, Miss., after the Jackson State College Tigers defeated the Florida A&M University Rattlers in 1962.

“The thing that sticks out in my mind (in the first classic) is the number of players they had,” continues Richardson. “We were warming up when they came out on the field. It looked like it took them almost an hour to come out. We had 36 or 38 players. They must have had a hundred. I had never seen that many players (on the same team) before.” The Tigers lost that game 14-8 and finished the 1961 season with a 9-2 record. The Jackson State players and coaches felt they should have won that game. On the other hand, the FAMU players felt they should have won by a larger margin. “The whole team got together after the game and said if we got invited back, we would beat them,” says Richardson. The Tigers’ affable, cigar chomping, rotund coach, John Merritt, chided after the game, “If they give us another chance next year, we will prove that we are the better team.” As it turned out, Jackson State almost didn’t get asked back. Tommy Devine, then-sports editor of the Miami News, wrote that when it came time to select the Rattlers opponent for the (1962) Orange Blossom Classic, coach Jake Gaither gave his Florida A&M players a choice of two teams. They were Morgan State of Baltimore or Jackson State. Gaither had a strong preference for the Eastern team. “Back in 1943, when we were playing with a squad that had been reduced both in talent and numbers by World War II, we played Mor-

gan State,” Gaither is quoted as saying in the Miami News. “They beat us 50–0. Ever since that time, I have tried in vain to get a game with them, but they never would schedule us. However, they were receptive to a classic bid,” Gaither relates. The players weren’t concerned with ancient history, continues the Miami News story. They recalled the great game they had with Jackson State a year earlier, but some observers were not convinced they were the superior team. The Rattlers wanted to prove they were, so Jackson State was given the return bid. The rest, as they say, is history. ‘WE HAD THE BETTER TEAM’ FAMU, with its baritone-voiced coach, Gaither, had taken the college football world by storm. The Rattlers were on a 21-game winning streak and ranked No. 1 in small colleges by The Associated Press. They had the world’s fastest backfield in Robert Paremore, Hewrit Dixon and Bob Hayes (Olympic sprinter who ran the 100-yard dash in 9.2 seconds and was known as the world’s fastest human). All three went on to NFL careers. Football pundits had tabbed the Rattlers a two-touchdown favorite over the Tigers. FAMU – with all its tradition, all-star athletes and 200-piece marching band – was sup-

posed to crush little upstart Jackson State. But on this evening, Dec. 8, 1962, the stars were aligned just right for the Tigers. Jackson State had the right coach, the right staff, the right players, at the right time. There would be no denying the Jackson State team on this day. Merritt and his core staff of Joe Gilliam (defensive coordinator) and Alvin “Cat” Coleman (offensive coordinator) had assembled a talented, speedy team with depth. In addition to Richardson, the Tigers fielded an all-star quarterback in Roy Curry, and a super backfield in fullback Louis McRae and halfback Edgar “Chico” Jordan. Other blue chippers on the team included Leslie “Speedy” Duncan (defensive back), Ben Magee (defensive lineman), Verlon Biggs (defensive lineman), Albert Greer (wide receiver), and guards Harold Cooley and James “Big Daddy” Carson. Jackson State cruised through the regular season, winning nine of its 10 games. The Tigers won the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship the second straight year. Jackson State averaged 38.9 points per game. The only blemish on the Tigers’ record was a 19–14 loss to Southern University. During that two-year span, the Tigers won 18 of their 21 games. Now the Tigers were poised to take on the mighty Rattlers in the 30th Annual Orange Blossom Classic. Black college football supremacy was at stake. “We knew we had the better team,” says Curry, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers after the game. “We went into the game with the attitude, ‘Let’s take care of business.’ ” Jackson State College quarterback Roy Curry receives a trophy after being named the MVP against Florida A&M University in 1962.

Former National Football League players Willie Richardson and Roy Curry are members of the Jackson State Sports Hall of Fame.

‘WE SHUT THEM DOWN’ An announced crowd of 43,461 fans were on hand for the game. A light rain had fallen much of the day before the 8:15 p.m. kickoff, hampering the anticipated crowd of 50,000. The Tigers pounced on the Rattlers early. Jackson State took the opening kickoff and marched 63 yards in three minutes. Jordan scored the game’s first touchdown on a 14-yard run up the middle. The Tigers had stretched that lead to 220 by the half on touchdown runs by McRae and Curry. Richardson’s heroics as a wide receiver were well-known. What most people don’t know is that Richardson played both ways in college. In addition to receiver, he played defensive back and had two interceptions in the game. On the first interception, he returned 42 yards to set up the Tigers’ second touchdown. “What I remember most was the interception I had toward the end of the game that helped seal the win for us,” says Richardson. “It stopped a potential scoring drive for them.” FAMU, with its offensive juggernaut, came into the contest averaging 42 points per game. The Rattlers didn’t score until the waning moments of the third period. “We shut them down,” says reserve fullback L. V. Donnell. “The first time we kicked off to them, Bob Hayes, the world’s fastest human, caught the ball on the goal line. We hit him on the fiveyard line, and that set the tone for the game.”

The Tigers intercepted four Rattlers’ passes. From the opening kickoff to the final whistle, the Tigers dominated. Jackson State went on to win the game 22–6 and was named black college national football champions by the Pittsburgh Courier. Curry was voted the game’s most outstanding player. RICHARDSON BECOMES AN ICON Following the game, the NFL’s Baltimore Colts signed Richardson. Greer was a draft choice of the Detroit Lions. At least 12 members of the team played one or more years in the NFL. The victory set off celebrations, testimonials and special tributes for the Tigers several weeks after the game. Richardson, who had ascended to iconic status as a football star and hero, received many awards and honors. The city of Jackson, his hometown of Greenville, Miss., as well as Woodville, Miss., all honored him with a “Willie Richardson Day.” He played in three post-season bowl games, including the North South Shrine game in Miami, the All-American Bowl in Tucson, Ariz., and the Crusade Bowl in Baltimore. He finished his career at Jackson State with staggering numbers. He had 43 catches for 893 yards and 11 touchdowns his senior season. He had a Jackson State record 1,227 receiving yards his sophomore year. Richardson completed his career as a Tiger with 171 catches, 3,616 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns. He was named All-SWAC four years.

Richardson went on to a stellar professional career with the Colts (eight years) and Miami Dolphins (one year). He was named All-Pro in 1967 and 1968. MOVING INTO THE LIMELIGHT Following the 1962 classic win, Jackson State was recognized as a small college football power. The success of the 1961 and 1962 teams gave instant recognition to the name Jackson State when it came to college football. From 1961 to 2002, the Tigers averaged seven wins a season, won or tied for 15 SWAC championships, had 94 players drafted including seven in the first round, and produced such stars as Walter Payton, Robert Brazile, Lem Barney, Jerome Barkhum, Leon Gray, Jackie Slater, Harold Jackson, Vernon Perry, Lewis Tillman, Jimmy Smith and Sylvester Morris. Jackson State had a JSU and state of Mississippi record 11 players drafted in the 1968 NFL draft. Jackson State set NCAA Division I-AA attendance records during the 1980s and 1990s and routinely played before home crowds of more than 40,000 spectators. The decade of the 1960s spawned social awareness, a musical renaissance, civil rights struggles, political upheavals and a cultural revolution. Like those times of change, the success of the 1961 and 1962 Jackson State football teams moved the Tiger program out of the shadows of a good, small college team and into the national limelight of one of the more recognizable collegiate football programs in the country.

Jackson State College Tigers Roster for the Orange Blossom Classic 00 13 ROBERT WOODARD TELLIS B. ELLIS POSITION HEIGHT WEIGHT CLASS

C 6-0 218 Jr.


HB 6-2 194 Fr.









HB 5-11 186 Jr.

FB 6-1 196 So.

HB 6-1 183 Fr.


E 6-1 192 Fr.


FB 6-1 208 Sr.


G 5-11 217 So.


G 6-0 200 Fr.

C 6-2 201 Jr.


G 5-11 193 Fr.


C 6-1 197 So.





G 6-0 196 So.

G 5-11 192 Fr.


G 5-11 215 Sr.


T 6-3 227 Jr.

T 6-1 232 Sr.


T 6-4 235 So.






T 6-4 265 So.

HB 5-9 178 Sr.


HB 5-10 180 Jr.







FB 6-2 193 Sr.


63 OTIS YOUNG G 5-10 219 Jr.

HB 6-0 179 So.





QB 6-2 202 Sr.







G 6-0 273 Sr.

QB 5-9 163 Fr.


55 HAROLD BISHOP C 6-3 198 So.

QB 6-2 191 So.





T 6-4 224 Fr.


E 6-4 216 Sr.


E 6-3 194 Fr.


E 6-4 194 Sr.



E 6-1 190 So.

Source: The Blue and White Flash, Orange Blossom Classic Edition, February 1963


E 6-0 190 So.


E 6-2 198 Sr.


T 6-1 243 Sr.

Brothers Gloster and Thomas Richardson appear in the 1964 Jackson State College yearbook. Both were wide receivers and played in the NFL, along with Willie and Earnest.

Brothers Allen, Earnest and Charles Richardson appear in the 1970 Jackson State College yearbook above a photo caption that read, “Gee, we wish we were like our big brothers!”

RICHARDSON BROTHERS: FIRST FAMILY OF JSU FOOTBALL BY SAM JEFFERSON A huge part of the football and athletic mystique at Jackson State University has been the school’s ability to attract several members of the same family to compete on its teams. Some of the names that readily come to mind are the Paytons (Eddie and Walter) from Columbia; the Hardys (Larry and Edgar, and Bertha in basketball) from Mendenhall; the Bishops (Harold, Beverly, Beverly Jr. and Ralph) from Corinth; the Normans (Matthew, Bobby and Tommy) from

Greenville; and the Phillips (Rodney and Arthur) from Mendenhall. In baseball, who can forget the Braddy brothers (Bob, Levertis, Leonard, Eddie and Joe) who played for the Tigers in the 1960s? Brother Lewis Braddy did not play at JSU, but he served as an assistant baseball coach under Bob, who is currently the Tigers’ director of athletics. Don’t forget the Short brothers (Eugene and Purvis) who starred in basketball. Both Shorts

were first-round NBA draft selections. Most recently, basketball star Trey Johnson and several members of his family, including his father, Clint Jr. (baseball), starred at JSU. There are many more examples of family involvement in Tiger athletics, but one family stands out – the Richardson brothers from Greenville, Miss. The Rev. W.L. Richardson and his wife, Alice T. Richardson, an award-winning educator, had

seven children, six sons and one daughter. All their sons played football at Jackson State. Four played in the NFL. “Jackson State was very fortunate to get the quality of athletes that came out of Rev. and Mrs. Richardson’s household,” says Dr. Walter Reed, former JSU athletics director and an assistant football coach at JSU in the mid-1960s when Gloster and Thomas played. Older brother Willie (1959–63) was the first of his brothers to come to then-Jackson State College. He was followed by Gloster, Thomas, Charles, Earnest and Allen. All played wide receiver except Earnest, who was a linebacker. Willie, Gloster, Thomas and Earnest played in the NFL. Gloster has a Super Bowl ring from his days with the Kansas City Chiefs. “My brothers followed me there,” Willie says. “I was very fortunate to play at Jackson State. Initially, I signed with Tennessee State after high school (Coleman High),” continues Willie. “I was working in a summer program when I ran into Dr. Charles Leonard. He encouraged me to go to Jackson State and I transferred.”

Leonard, who was a dental student at Meharry Medical College at the time, remembers the meeting well. “It was at the corner of 18th and Jefferson streets,” says Leonard, who practiced dentistry in Jackson until his retirement two years ago. “I knew for a fact that Jackson State wanted him, and I knew Tennessee State had a bunch of sophomore receivers returning. “It would have been hard for him to play up there. Plus, Jackson State had quarterback Cornelius Addison who I coached in high school. He was the best natural passer I had ever seen. I told Willie, if he went to JSU, Addison would make him an All-American.” Leonard was prophetic in that statement. Addison was the Tigers’ quarterback during Richardson’s first two years, and Roy Curry was Richardson’s quarterback his final two years of college. “Willie was a great receiver,” says Curry, who is a retired coach and public school administrator in Chicago, Ill. “Against Southern University in 1962, we had three of the Richardson brothers in the game at the same time. Willie was lined

up at split end, Gloster at flanker and Thomas at tight end. They all were great players.” Willie’s name is synonymous with JSU football. In Tiger football lore, no other player is more revered than Willie with the possible exception of Walter Payton. During his career at JSU, Willie was named All-SWAC four years and All-American three years. When he graduated, he was selected to play in the All-American, Crusade and the North South bowl games before going on to a stellar NFL career with the Baltimore Colts (eight years) and Miami Dolphins (one year). When Willie completed his tenure at Jackson State, he held almost all the receiving records. His 171 catches for 3,616 yards and 36 touchdowns were all records. He had a Tiger record 1,227 receiving yards his sophomore season. During his senior year, he had 43 catches for 893 yards and 11 touchdowns. During the early 1960s, Willie Richardson, more than any other single player, helped usher in an era of unprecedented success for the JSU football program. The Richardson brothers can be tabbed as the first family of Jackson State football.

All-American wide receiver Willie Richardson was honored at “Willie Richardson Day” in his hometown of Greenville, Miss., after the Jack son State College Tigers defeated the Florida A&M University Rattlers in 1962.

President Ronald Mason Jr. and Athletics Director Robert Braddy give Jimmy Smith (center) a replica of his No. 7 jersey during half-time at the Jackson State University vs. Delta State University football game.


of an emergency appendectomy. He was released by the Cowboys after his second........................ season. ........................ He signed on with the Philadelphia Eagles his ........................ ........................ third season, but he was cut at the end........................ of train........................ ing camp. ........................ ....................... In 1995, he tried out for the Jaguars and made ........................ ........................ the expansion team. He caught his first NFL ........................ ........................ pass for the Jaguars in 1995, three years after leaving JSU. “I had a lot of pitfalls that made me stronger in May of 2006. Tiger Athletics Director Robert Braddy says as a player,” says Smith. “It made me work JSU “wants to strengthen relationships with harder.” During his career with the Jaguars, he caught our former athletes.” 862 passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns. “We want to let them know we really care He was named All-Pro five times, and he played about them and how much they mean to Jacka record 178 games and started 150 in Jacksonson State,” Braddy says. ville. His catches and yards rank him in the top A highly recruited prep star, Smith signed with 11 of all-time receivers in the NFL. In fact, Smith Jackson State in 1988 after making recruiting visits to Florida, Texas A&M and the University has more catches than any present receiver in of Tennessee. His father, Jimmy Smith Sr., and the NFL Hall of Fame. His best years were 1999 when he caught a his mother, Etta, are graduates of JSU. His father played football for JSU and was one of a league-leading 116 passes for 1,636 yards and six touchdowns, and 2001 when he caught 112 record 11 Tigers drafted into the NFL in 1968. The younger Smith had an outstanding career passes for 1,373 yards and eight touchdowns. JSU plans to honor more former Tiger athas a Tiger receiver and went on to become the face of the Jaguars during his 13 years with the letes. “We have a lot of tradition here at JSU, and players like Jimmy helped build that traditeam. But Smith’s journey from JSU to NFL super- tion,” says Blue Bengal Athletic Association stardom certainly wasn’t traveled over a yellow President Calvin Younger, who spearheaded the tribute to him. “This is something that I hope brick road. He broke his leg during his first season with we are able to continue with more of our other Dallas and missed the second season because former athletes.”

JIMMY SMITH BY SAM JEFFERSON Jackson State University honored one of its all-time great receivers, Jimmy Smith, during half-time ceremonies of the Tigers’ 2007 season opening football game against Delta State University. Smith received a replica of his No. 7 JSU jersey on the 50-yard line on Sept. 2 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. “I am honored that JSU is doing this for me. It’s good to bring some of the former football players back,” says Smith, who lives in Jacksonville, Fla. “There is a lot of history here. I was a part of three SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) championships, in 1987, 1988 and 1990.” A Jackson, Miss., native and Callaway High School product, Smith graduated from JSU in 1992. During his last two years as a Tiger receiver, he caught 85 passes for 1,697 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those statistics and his blazing speed helped make him a second-round draft pick (36th player chosen) of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1992 NFL draft. He retired from the Jacksonville Jaguars

FORMER JSU FOOTBALL PLAYER INDUCTED INTO SPORTS HALL OF FAME BY WESLEY PETERSON Jackson State University All-American Robert Brazile, a seven-time NFL All-Pro selection with the Houston Oilers, was inducted into the Bancorp Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on July 27, 2007. The honor marks the third time Brazile has been included into a Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Jackson State Sports Hall of Fame in 2003. “I’m honored by the induction. Everyone sees me and hears my name, but I see it as the JSU football Tigers being inducted,” Brazile says. “Just as with the NFL Hall of Fame, there are other great players who should be in, like Vernon Perry and Rickey Young.” Brazile was rated as the premiere collegiate linebacker in 1974 while playing at Jackson State. He started his collegiate football career

as a tight end, but switched to linebacker during his sophomore year. Brazile was called “Mr. Versatile,” a moniker he earned because of his ability to excel at either the inside or outside linebacker slot. While at JSU, Brazile helped the Tigers finish with a 9-1-1 record in 1971; an 8-3 mark and a SWAC championship in 1972; 9-2 and another SWAC championship in 1973; and 7-4 in 1974. During the ’74 season, Brazile set a school record of 129 solo tackles and 79 assists, and he led the SWAC in interceptions with nine. He was a consensus All-SWAC selection and a Sheridan Black College All-American. Brazile also was chosen to play in the Senior Bowl. The Mobile, Ala., native was a first-round draft pick of the Houston Oilers in 1975 and went on to be named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year and the American Conference’s top

rookie. During his professional career, Brazile – known to Oiler fans as “Dr. Doom” – earned seven consecutive Pro Bowl appearances (1977–83) and also was named to the All-NFL first team five times.

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DID YOU KNOW…? BY SAM JEFFERSON Lem Barney Barney, a standout cornerback for JSU and native of Gulfport, Miss., holds the Tiger career interception record with 26.

Walter Payton Payton was the most prolific running back in JSU history when he graduated in 1975.

Jackie Slater Slater, an outstanding offensive lineman for the Tigers, was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson State University has more former football players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame than any other college in Mississippi. Three former Tigers are enshrined in the Canton, Ohio, hall: Lem Barney (1992), Walter Payton (1993) and Jackie Slater (2001). Among Southwestern Athletic Conference schools, only Grambling (4) has more players enshrined than JSU. No other SWAC school has more than one. Barney, a standout cornerback for JSU and native of Gulfport, Miss., holds the Tiger career interception record with 26. He was drafted in the second round by the NFL’s Detroit Lions. Barney played 11 seasons for Detroit and holds the Lions’ all-time career record in punt return yardage (1,312). His 56 career interceptions are second on the all-time list, and his 1,051 in-

terception return yardage is a Lions career best. Payton was the most prolific running back in JSU history when he graduated in 1975. He rushed for 3,563 yards, scored 66 touchdowns (JSU record), and at the time of his graduation from JSU, held the NFL scoring record with 464 career points. Payton was drafted in the first round (fourth player picked) of the 1975 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears. His 16,726 career rushing yards ranks him second in the NFL. Slater, an outstanding offensive lineman for the Tigers, was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1976 NFL draft. He played 20 seasons in the NFL, all with the Rams. He played in more games than any offensive lineman in history, and is the Rams all-time leader with 258 games played.

COLLEGE OF BUSINESS Jackson State University’s College of Business hosted the Financial Literacy Rally and Youth Empowerment Summit for more than 400 high school students. Farrah Gray, who became a millionaire at age 14, was a featured guest. Dr. Quinton Booker, chair of the accounting department, has been named Jackson State’s first BankPlus Endowed Chair. In 2006, BankPlus became the first business to establish an endowed chair at the university. COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Jackson State University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe received more than $5 million to expand alternate education programs and increase the number of qualified teachers in the Mississippi and Louisiana Delta. TEACH DELTA REGION is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. The Community Counseling Program in the department of school, community and rehabilitation counseling received a two-year accreditation from the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS The Music Technology Program in the music department received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music. The program serves undergraduate students seeking to become experts in the field of digital music recording, music production and computer-assisted instruction. The departments of English and modern foreign languages, and history and philosophy have expanded their programs to emphasize study abroad and interdisciplinary learning. Through the Division of International Studies, students spent up to one semester during the spring and summer studying in Costa Rica and China. COLLEGE OF LIFELONG LEARNING The Professional Interdisciplinary Studies degree program celebrated its first graduating classes in 2007, with eight students in May and 14 in August. The program targets adults ages 25 and up who seek a nontraditional method of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. A College Bound Club was established to assist students at high schools and Job Corps centers who are interested in attending Jackson State University. The college has developed its own scholarship program, the Adult Training for Lifelong Advancement and Support Services, or ATLASS, which has awarded $21,000. COLLEGE OF PUBLIC SERVICE The Department of Urban and Regional Planning Research Room was officially dedicated on July 31 at Jackson State’s Information Services Library in the Universities Center. More than 1,300 books, maps and other research data were donated by Joseph Lusteck, a former adjunct professor and a leading planner in Mississippi and the Southeast. The School of Social Work Ph.D. program celebrates its status as the only doctoral degree-offering program in social work in Mississippi for the past 10 years. Since 1997, 15 students have received degrees.

COLLEGE OF SCIENCE, ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY The School of Engineering was notified Aug. 13 that its civil, computer and telecommunications programs have been fully accredited by ABET Inc. The school opened in fall 2000 and graduated its first students in May 2005. So far, 39 students have graduated, and about 245 are enrolled. Jackson State University received nearly $5 million from the National Center for Research Resources, a part of the National Institutes of Health, to establish the Data and Technology Coordinating Center at the Mississippi e-Center @ JSU. The funds are part of a three-year, $9.5 million grant to establish the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Translational Research Network, which will focus on addressing health disparities in minority and underserved communities.

DIVISION OF GRADUATE STUDIES Dr. Dorris R. Robinson-Gardner, dean of JSU’s Division of Graduate Studies, has been elected to a two-year term as president of the Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools. The organization assists member organizations in increasing enrollment, retention and graduation of AfricanAmerican students in graduate programs and prepares them to become faculty and leaders. Three doctoral students have joined the Preparing Future Faculty Program, which allows students to experience faculty responsibilities at a variety of academic institutions. Ten Jackson State students are participating through a partnership with Howard University and the University of Texas at El Paso. DIVISION OF INTERNATIONAL STUDIES The Jackson State University Division of International Studies received a $13.5 million award from the U.S. Agency for International Development for the Textbook and Learning Materials Program, a collaborative effort to produce 600,000 quality mathematics textbooks and learning materials for grade 4–5 pupils in Zambia. Others involved in the program include the Ministry of Education and the Mississippi Consortium for International Development. The number of students participating in study-abroad programs more than doubled during the 2006–07 academic year. During this period, more than 63 students studied in China, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Italy, Nicaragua, Poland, South Africa, Kenya and France. DIVISION OF STUDENT LIFE The Professional Development and Self Assessment Center has been renamed the Center for Student Leadership and Involvement, under the direction of Edwin Quinn. Students will receive formal training in character building, professional development and leadership preparedness. This center was awarded an $800,000 federal grant through Title III (Strengthening America’s HBCUs) over the next five years. Under the leadership of Cathy Patterson, director of special projects for the Division of Student Life, a new workshop – Student Alliance through Leadership and Diversity, or SALAD – was held to assist students with leading diverse student populations. DIVISION OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES The Division of Undergraduate Studies has implemented a transitions program for transfer students. Through an early fall orientation, and assessment and advisement sessions in July, more than 125 students were able to finalize class schedules and meet with registration and financial aid representatives. The students received additional assistance during Welcome Week 2007 in August. Two new seminars, “Discovering Careers in Science” and “Discovering Careers for Undecided Majors,” allow students to learn about new careers, interact with people in those fields, and develop resume writing and interviewing skills.

DIVISION OF LIBRARY & INFORMATION RESOURCES The family of Dr. Henry T. Sampson, namesake of the Jackson State University library, donated more than 150 pieces from the former executive dean’s private collection of papers, photographs and speeches. Sampson’s son, Dr. Henry T. Sampson Jr. of Palos Verdes, Calif., and widow Esther Sampson Marshall of Jackson, Miss., contributed the items. Jackson State students, faculty and staff can now access more than 50 databases with thousands of journals from home. Using a university assigned J-number, they can create a user ID at the H.T. Sampson Library’s Web site. Among the newest offerings are the Oxford African-American Studies Center and the Elsevier Science Direct Freedom Collection and Credo Reference, formerly Xreferplus. OFFICE OF RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND FEDERAL RELATIONS Jackson State University garnered a record $66.7 million in research and other sponsored program awards for fiscal 2006–07, topping the previous year’s record of $56 million. With a total of $43 million during fiscal 2002-03, the latest figures show a 35 percent increase in five years. The College of Science, Engineering and Technology and the Division of International Studies brought in a total of 88 percent of the year’s funding, raising $21.2 million and $19.6 million respectively.

Computer operator OfďŹ ce of Information Management

Line assistant Department of Dining Services

Midnight receptionist, Stewart and Dixon Residence Halls Department of Residence Life/Housing

Assistant professor Department of School, Community and Rehabilitation Counseling

Custodian Department of Facilities & Construction Management

Educator, Jackson State University alumna First African-American woman, Board of Trustees, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning

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Jacksonian Fall/Winter 2007  
Jacksonian Fall/Winter 2007  

Jackson State University magazine fall/winter 2007