The Meridian Star
The birth of a college
Fifty years ago last month, Dec. 4, 1962, the citizens of Meridian gave a gift that keeps on giving
A $4 million dollar school bond issue was passed by the voters of the city, with $1.2 million earmarked for building a new and separate campus for Meridian Junior College (MJC).
Less than 5,000 voters participated in this bond issue vote, which was spear-headed by the Committee for Betters Schools whose members included Laurence Paine, John Egger, Mrs. Roland Kimbrell and Mrs. P.A. Mikell.
Since its founding in 1937, MJC, or the 13th and 14th grades of Meridian High School, was housed on the same 23rd Avenue campus. By the early 1960s, conditions on the original campus became crowded and hampered the growth of both the high school and the college programs.
The bond issue allowed the parent body of MJC, the Meridian Separate School District, to acquire and build a new campus for the college in the western part of town - just off Eighth Street. This parcel of land had been part of the East Mississippi State Hospital property on what was the facility’s hog farm.
The rest of bond funds were spent on other projects within the Meridian Public Schools. It is not clear how much, if any, of this bond issue was allocated to Harris High School and Junior College which was a segregated institution for blacks. It was also administered by the Meridian Separate School District. Both schools operated 13th and 14 grades.
In the 1962 issue of "The Community College in the South: Progress and Prospects," Dr. Lindsey Ogletree Todd, then superintendent of Meridian Separate School District and president of Meridian Junior and Harris Junior Colleges, wrote the article, "Trends in Development of the Community and Junior College in Mississippi." He wrote, “The State has not realistically faced the challenge of providing post-secondary education for its great body of Negro youth.”
This is a remarkable statement emanating from a leader of an educational system with two separate institutions of higher learning in which the cost of maintaining both was an less than effective use of scarce resources. Easy perhaps for us now to look back and wonder at the cost to both races as the community sought to give the image of separate but equal.
Dr. William F. Scaggs was hired as the dean of MJC in 1963.
While the new campus was being constructed, MJC moved to the old Stevenson Elementary School building, where it would begin the process of separating from Meridian High School.
The new college campus designed by local architect William Archer was dedicated on May 23, 1965, and its initial building was named in honor of the Dr. Horace Macaulay Ivy, the founding superintendent of the public junior college in Meridian.
In the Fall of 1969, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court ordered the Meridian Separate School District to close T. J. Harris Junior College and to ensure that all students of the district were guaranteed access to Meridian Junior College. It must be noted, however, the firsts blacks to enroll at the new campus of MJC registered in 1966 — three years before Harris closed. Among the first were Roscoe Jones, Edna Hardaway, Edna Graham, Helen Stewart, Hazel Trussell, Bernice Rackley and Addie Goines.
Today, MCC helps to support the medical centers that employ and serve the people of East Mississippi and West Alabama with nurses and most of the allied health specialists used in the medical industrial complex.
In addition, the college prides itself on responding to the needs of local industry, especially start-up training, supplying support over the years for companies such as Peavey Corp., Sunbeam Electric, Delco Remy, Lockheed of Georgia, N.E.W. Corp., Handy Hardware and National Blank Book/Avery Dennison, to name a few.
MCC is a leader in university transfer, cost effectively preparing local students for advancement to the university of their choice not only for the schools in Mississippi, but also for any university in the world.
Billy Beal, Meridian Community College dean of learning resources
A tribute to local
Even in times of bad storms in our lives, our Heavenly Father has resources readily available to meet our every need.
On a routine Monday morning, I went to a dentist to have a "filling and a cap."
It turned out to be a two hour drilling and crown treatment, which started me on an eight-day path of day and night suffering, a serious systemic infection caused from two abscess, and found needing two root canals only a specialist should perform.
The treatment for a "filling and cap" was to be $300 plus insurance. I was very concerned about the price because, only a few weeks earlier my husband had four stents inserted that saved his life.
On Monday morning, I prayed and asked God to take care of everything that happened from that time and on. I believed with all my heart that he was ready, capable and willing to do this.
I called my primary physician's office and they got me an appointment that day. Mary Ann Ward saw me and I was told the antibiotics I was on was not working properly and due to my elevated blood count, I needed a shot and another strong antibiotic before I see the dentist again. She knew exactly what I needed.
The secretary at the dentist office called and made an appointment with Watermark Endodontics, Mark W. Moore, DMD. Dr. Moore worked me in his schedule for the next day. I went home thanking our Heavenly Father for his love and compassion to help me in my time of need.
My sister Ann called and prayed for me over the phone. In just a couple minutes my phone rang. It was Dr. Moore's assistant calling. She immediately asked me was I hurting. The pain was excruciating. I thanked her for asking and told her I was in excruciating pain. She said, "Hold on." When she came back to the phone, she said come now.
I am not sure why she called, but I knew God was working his plan. These strangers, people whom I have never met, cared enough about me, that they took a stranger in. They all treated me the way a son would help his mother, the way a brother would treat a sister, the way a son would treat a father.
They explained what they were doing and told me if during the procedure I even felt like it might be a pain, to tell them. He said he wanted me to leave there saying I did not have any pain. That is what he did.
What kind of people are these? They are a group of professional people who care, so very much, about people they don't know, and giving the best quality care possible. They work as a team to ensure if you come to them, the care you receive would not only be as if you were one of their family but if it were one of them.
Mary Ann Ward ended up seeing me on two more occasions. I required more shots and more antibiotics. She and her staff were quite concerned about me. Her knowledge and abilities enabled her to pull me through. They are people who listen, who care for you and treat you as one of them. I do not believe I would have lived through this without her expertise.
Our community should be very proud to have such compassionate professionals to be there when any one of us could get up to a routine day and find ourselves on a path that feels like a nightmare.
It was Christmas and what they did for me included the best care I could have received anywhere but also all the things that money can't buy, that makes a total difference for the rest of my life. And just to think about this, they do it all year long.
Not a happy camper
Let's see if I've got this straight: Over the last 10 years Congress has authorized $1.5 trillion to be poured down the rat hole of a senseless war.
In order to make up the deficit, now a large number of those same "representatives of the people" are determined to cut Social Security and the other programs that the most vulnerable citizens depend on to survive.
Meanwhile those same "representatives of the people" are just as determined to protect the obscenely wealthy and corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.
If I were a billionaire I would be jumping for joy, but I'm trying to survive for a year on what people like the heads of corporations rake in an hour and, like millions of Americans, I am not a happy camper.
C.E. Swain, WW II vet and retired UMC minister
Help save the boys
We save our boys by giving them a role model to follow. When our boys have a clear role model, they intuitively know how to function when they assume the responsibility of marriage and parenting. But in this generation, there are too many crippled boys who have no idea what it is to be a man!
It is my God- appointed task to ensure that my sons and all Meridian sons will be ready to lead a family. I must equip them to that end. Little boys are the hope of the next generation. They are the fathers of tomorrow. They must know who they are (little gods), and what they are to do.
They must see their role models in action. That’s how they will know what it means to be a male. That puts the ball in my court, and your court, and our court: all the citizens of Meridian.
It’s our job to save the boys of this community. So the question is, "How are we going to do that?" My children are grown now, off in college and careers. I pray I did a pretty clear demonstration teaching them the responsibilities of life!
Now I ask God: "What do I specifically need to help better train boys in Meridian? What do I specifically need to do in order to train them to become leaders of their families?"
God gave me five specific goals for saving boys. It is my job as an earthly community father to model for them the importance of: (1) knowing and obeying Jesus Christ; (2) knowing and displaying godly character; (3) knowing and loving my wife; (4) knowing and loving my children, and; (5) knowing my gifts and abilities, so I can work hard and effectively in an area of strength, rather than weakness, and contribute effectively to the lives of others – and have a little fun at the same time.
This is my New Year’s Resolution; I need help from all of you in order for me to keep it!
Randle L. Jennings