Oktibbeha

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Conner, Douglas

Douglas Conner was a doctor and activist in Oktibbeha County. Conner was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi (Forrest County), in 1920. Following graduation from Howard University Medical School in 1950, Conner took a position with the Oktibbeha County Hospital in 1951 and worked there until 1989. While working in Starkville in Oktibbeha County, Conner was a leader in the local chapter of the NAACP and the Oktibbeha County Democratic Party. Conner also served on the Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Committee for a period.

During the 1960s, Conner led several marches and boycotts as part of the larger Civil Rights Movement and was jailed numerous times as a result. Conner also ran unsuccessfully for alderman, state senator, and state representative. He co-authored his autobiography, A Black Physician’s Story: Bringing Hope in Mississippi, with Professor John Marszalek.

Sources:

“A Black Physician’s Story: Bringing Hope in Mississippi.” Conner, Douglas L.

“Douglas L. Conner: A Biography.”Conner, Connie. Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project of Starkville High School. http://www.shs.starkville.k12.ms.us/mswm/MSWritersAndMusicians/writers/Conner.html

Oktibbeha County Race Relations Team

The Oktibbeha County Race Relations Team was created in 1993 as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Quality Community Initiative. The group consisted of 15 to 20 black and white citizens of Oktibbeha County and coordinated dialogue projects and community events. During the trial of William Jerome Manning, a young black man convicted of killing two white college students, the Race Relations Team worked to heal divides within the community. In 1994, the Race Relations Team worked to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations an interracial community event.

The program was involved in training local school administrators, mediating an annexation dispute between the city of Starkville and the NAACP, and submitting educational newspaper columns on race relations. Other Mississippi communities such as Grenada County and Choctaw County have called on the Race Relations Team to share its experiences and successes. The program has been featured in newspapers such as The Starkville Daily News, The Commercial Dispatch and The Clarion-Ledger.

Sources:

“Promising Practices: Oktibbeha County Race Relations Team.”President’s Initiative on Race. http://clinton2.nara.gov/Initiatives/OneAmerica/Practices/pp_19980804.4161.html

Gutman, Jeremiah

Jeremiah Gutman was a lawyer and activist during the Civil Rights Movement.

Gutman was born in Brooklyn, New York. Gutman earned a law degree from New York University in 1949. During the Freedom Summer of 1964, Gutman traveled across Mississippi, including areas of Oktibbeha County, to legally defend civil rights workers and take depositions for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) congressional vote challenge. Gutman was also active in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Sources:

“Jeremiah Gutman: Comment on Oktibbeha County, Mississippi.”Perspectives on Reporting. http://www.reportingcivilrights.org/perspectives/gutman.jsp

“Reporters and Writers: Jeremiah Gutman.”Perspectives on Reporting. http://www.reportingcivilrights.org/authors/bio.jsp?authorId=113

Hutchinson, Flavou

Flavous Hutchinson was a law professor and writer on the civil rights movement.

Hutchinson was born in 1923 in Tupelo, Mississippi. After earning a master’s in education and a law degree from the University of Mississippi, Hutchinson was admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1950. Hutchinson taught in Saltillo, Walnut, and at the New Harmony School before taking positions at the law schools of Southern Illinois University and Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Hutchinson settled in Oktibbeha County in the 1960s where he served as a professor of business law at Mississippi State University for over 40 years. Hutchinson was a leader in civil rights activism, though he was a staunch Loyalist Democrat. Hutchinson served as Chairman of the Action Committee of the Oktibbeha County Democrats for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, as parliamentarian with the Mississippi Democratic Conference in 1965, and as a delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Sources:

“Flavous Hutchinson”(obituary). Pontotoc Progress. http://www.rootsweb.com/~mspontot/obits/obits-h.htm

“Hutchinson, Flavous.”Civil Rights Oral History Bibliography. http://www.usm.edu/crdp/html/interviews/h-info.shtml

Marszalek, John and Jeanne

John F. Marszalek graduated from Canisius College and the University of Notre Dame. A member of the Mississippi State University faculty from 1973 to 2002, he was a prolific writer on the Civil Rights Movement, authoring the Encyclopedia of African-American Civil Rights: From Emancipation to the Present with Charles Lowery. He also published work on two Starkville area black leaders, including Douglas Conner.

Jeanne A. Marszalek, a graduate of St. Mary’s College, was a long-time leader in community race relations and the 1996 winner of the “Unity in the Community” Award from the Oktibbeha County NAACP. She served for ten years as chair of the Oktibbeha County Democratic Executive Committee and was a delegate to two national conventions.

Sources:

“The Marszalek Library and Lecture Series.”University Library at Mississippi State University. http://library.msstate.edu/content/templates/?a=580&/