Benton – People/Persons

Hicks, Hervey O.

Benton County native, served in the House of Representatives in 1931 and from 1948 to 1976.

Farese, Orene E. and Farese, John

In 1938, Orene E. Farese became a high school English teacher in Ashland, MS, located in Benton County. In 1939, she married John Farese and moved to Benton County. With a forthcoming war, WWII, Gov. Paul Johnson, appointed Farese as the chief clerk of the Benton County Draft Board. In 1948, her husband was elected senator. Four years later, in 1952, both John and Orene ran and were elected into the Mississippi House of Representatives setting a new trend by becoming the first couple to be elected to a legislature. In 1956, Orene was elected to the Senate and her husband was re-elected to the House.

Farese, Orene E.

In 1938, Orene E. Farese became a high school English teacher in Ashland, MS, located in Benton County. In 1939, she married John Farese. During World War II, Gov. Paul Johnson appointed Farese as the chief clerk of the Benton County Draft Board. In 1948, her husband was elected to the State Senate. Four years later, in 1952, both John and Orene ran and were elected into the State House of Representatives, becoming the first couple to be elected to a legislature. In 1956, Orene was elected to the Senate and her husband was re-elected to the House. She served alongside William Winter and worked on school equalization following the Brown decision, opposing the proposed bill to abolish public schools in the state rather than integrate. She was not re-elected in 1959 because of such stances on school desegregation.

Sources:

http://www.lib.usm.edu/~spcol/coh/cohfareseo.html

Clark, Gloria Xifaras

Gloria Xifaras Clark was a prominent advocate for civil rights in Benton, as well as Marshall, Tippah, and Union counties. She now resides in New Bedford, Massachussetts, but has vivid memories of the civil rights movement. In the early 1960s, she taught in the Benton County Freedom School during Freedom Summer, worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, became an advisor for a youth chapter of the NAACP, conducted voter registration drives, taught literacy and black history, and organized and maintained the Freedom House Library.

Sources:

http://www.crmvet.org/vet/xifaras.htm

Futorian, Aviva

Aviva Futorian, originally of New Albany, was a young graduate from Brandeis when she worked in Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964. She worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1964 to 1966, largely with the Benton County Citizens Club. She left Mississippi in 1965 to work for the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago. Futorian made a documentary entitled My Mind Stayed on Freedom about civil rights workers in Benton County. She is currently a lawyer based in Chicago, representing death row inmates. Futorian’s work includes activism related to the abolition of the death penalty in Illinois.

Sources:

Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, http://www.icadp.org/.

Civil Rights Movement Veterans, http:www.crmvet.org.

Thompson, Loyal W.

Loyal W. Thompson, Sr. served as Captain and Director Chairman of the Citizen’s Club and member of the local chapter of the NAACP. In the June 1965 issue of Look magazine, Thompson was photographed sitting on his porch holding his rifle, determined to defend his family against the violence that threatened all involved in civil rights work. After the picture was published, it was hard for Thompson to find work and even if he did, it was hard for him keep his job after employers find out who he was.

Sources:

Interview with Latoya Thompson, granddaughter