TUPELO, Miss. — Since her first job as a Columbus high school teacher, right out of Mississippi University for Women, Allegra Brigham has committed her time and talents to the public good.
The Mississippi Trailblazers Organization announces today that Brigham will be recognized for her many contributions, at the Mississippi Trailblazers Awards Ceremony and Black Tie Gala, May 4 at the BancorpSouth Center.
During the Ceremony, Columbus native Brigham will receive the organization’s “Representative Leonard Morris Award for Public Service and Integrity.” The award is named for the late Batesville lawmaker who died during the 2007 legislative session. Brigham’s most recent public service contribution was serving for eighteen months as Interim President of MUW.
Brigham joins U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Graves in the Mississippi Trailblazers Class of 2013, who will receive the “Mississippi Trailblazer of the Decade Award” at the organization’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.
Since 2003, The Mississippi Trailblazers Awards has recognized and honored Mississippians for their significant contributions to racial, gender and cultural diversity through their professional endeavors and public service.
A Clinton native, Judge Graves is the first and only African-American Mississippian to serve on the nation’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Mississippi Trailblazers will also mark its tenth anniversary by simultaneously honoring three Mississippians who have made significant impact on their state’s difficult journey toward racial diversity and reconciliation: Ole Miss Chancellor Emeritus Robert C. Khayat and The Right Reverends Duncan M. Gray Jr. and Duncan M. Gray III. The father and son Grays, who have both served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, will receive the first-ever Dr. Robert C. Khayat Distinguished Award for Diversity and Racial Reconciliation. In October, 1962, Rev. Duncan Gray Jr. bravely stood against violent rioters on the Ole Miss campus who were protesting James Meredith’s enrollment into the university as its first black student. Fifty years later, Rev. Gray III helped conceive the “A Day of Remembrance” program to commemorate Meredith’s historical enrollment. Both Grays have made racial reconciliation a life mission.
The Grays are the second father and son to be recognized by the Mississippi Trailblazers, following Tupelo’s Jack Reed Sr. and Jr., who were honored in 2005 and 2011, respectively. Unlike the Reeds, the Grays are being honored in the same ceremony for the same contributions.
Under Dr. Khayat’s leadership, Ole Miss came to terms with its turbulent history. Part of his legacy is a monument centrally located on campus depicting Meredith walking through the door of segregation.
Previous Mississippi Trailblazers recipients include Maj. Gen. Augustus Leon Collins, Mississippi Adjutant General; Blake Wilson, President of the Mississippi Economic Council; Dr. Dolphus Weary, Mission Mississippi Chairman Emeritus; Percy Watson, former Chairman of the Mississippi House Ways and Means Committee; Dr. Katrina Poe, 2005 Country Doctor of the Year; Sam Haskell, International Entertainment Executive and best-selling Author.
Other members of the Mississippi Trailblazers Class of 2013 include:
· Dr. David Cole, Fulton – “Mississippi Leadership Award” – Retiring president of Itawamba Community College, and former Chief of Staff to Governor Ronnie Musgrove.
· Chief Phyllis Anderson, Red Water – “Sam Haskell Spirit of America Award” – Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
· Denotee Martin, New Albany – “Rev. Robert Jamison Lifetime Achievement Award” – Highway and Bridge Builder, General Contractor, Business Leader.
· Pastor Charles/Dr. Cheryl Penson, Tupelo – “Tupelo Trailblazers” – Religious Community and Education Leaders
· Hon. Glenn McCullough Jr., Tupelo – “Tupelo Trailblazer of the Decade” – Former Mayor of Tupelo and former Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority
· Mary Werner, Saltillo – “Mississippi Trailblazers Legacy Award” – Business and Civic Leader, first female Chairman of the Community Development Corporation.
· Alivia Paden Roberts, Shannon – “ Mississippi Trailblazers Promising Youth Award” – 2013 Miss Teen Tupelo, Youth Missionary, Ambassador.
The Mississippi Trailblazers Awards is Mississippi’s only awards ceremony recognizing Mississippians for their contributions to diversity.