2007 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Jordan, Horhn, Thomas, Williamson, Chaney, Walls, Gollott, Lee (35th), Jackson (11th), Frazier, Hewes, Mettetal, Chassaniol, Kirby, Fillingane, Butler, Carmichael, Harden, Simmons, Turner, Tollison, Browning, Jackson (32nd), Nunnelee, Gordon, Lee (47th), Cuevas, Hyde-Smith, Clarke, Jackson (15th), Dawkins, White, Albritton, Dearing, Little

Senate Concurrent Resolution 603

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


     WHEREAS, Lerone Bennett, Jr., is one of Mississippi's most successful black writers of the Twentieth Century; and

     WHEREAS, Lerone Bennett, Jr., the Historian and Executive Editor Emeritus of Ebony Magazine, is the author of ten books, including Before The Mayflower, which American Legacy Magazine called "one of the most popular single-volume histories of blacks ever written"; and

     WHEREAS, the author, who calls himself a witness-participant, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, on October 17, 1928, the son of Alma Reed Bennett and Lerone Bennett, Sr., and moved with his family at an early age to Jackson, Mississippi.  He graduated from Lanier High School in 1945 and started his journalism career as a teenage reporter for the Jackson Advocate and the Mississippi Enterprise.  During his early years, he led the Duke Bennett jazz orchestra, which performed in Mississippi and Louisiana; and

     WHEREAS, after graduating from Atlanta's Morehouse College, he served as City Editor of the Atlanta Daily World.  He joined Johnson Publishing Company in 1953 and became Associate Editor of Ebony in 1954.  He became Executive Editor of Ebony in 1987 and Executive Editor Emeritus on his retirement in 2003.  He assisted John H. Johnson, the legendary Ebony publisher, in the preparation of his classic book, Succeeding Against The Odds, which is a must-read for anyone interested in blacks and corporate America; and

     WHEREAS, the author was visiting Professor of History at Northwestern University.  His books, poems and short stores have been translated into French, German, Japanese, Swedish, Arabic and Russian.  He received the Patron Saints Award of the Society of Midland Authors for a biography of his Morehouse college mate, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Book Award for his study of Abraham Lincoln, Forced into Glory.  He has also received the Literature Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and

     WHEREAS, in 1978, he was featured at the Chancellor's Symposium on Southern History at the University of Mississippi.  In 1997, he was cited as a distinguished Mississippian at the University of Mississippi, and he was featured, along with Richard Wright, Eudora Welty, Shelby Foote, Margaret Walker and others, in the book Mississippi Writers:  Reflections of Childhood and Youth; and

     WHEREAS, Mr. Bennett is married to the former Gloria Sylvester, and they are the parents of four children:  Joy, Constance, Courtney and Lerone III.  His sister, Elnor Hickman, also graduated from Lanier High School and his aunt, Thelma Reed Blackmon, lived in Jackson for many years; and

     WHEREAS, he serves on the Board of Trustees of Columbia College, Chicago, Illinois, and the Chicago History Museum.  President Clinton appointed him to the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, and President George W. Bush appointed him to the Presidential Commission on the proposed National Museum of African-American History and Culture; and

     WHEREAS, in 1996, he received the highest honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, the "Salute to Greatness" Award.  In 2003, he received the highest honor of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, the Carter G. Woodson Medallion.  In 2004, he received the Distinguished W.E.B. DuBois Scholarship Award of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists.  In 2006, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Black Journalists.  He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Delta Chi Journalism Society, Sigma Phi Pi and Kappa Alpha Psi; and

     WHEREAS, he was inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, and he said there what he has said repeatedly, "I owe more than I can ever repay to the black schoolteachers of Mississippi, who literally saved my life and who taught me that there was no limit to what I could dream and do"; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we recognize the accomplishments of this noted author and historian who has brought honor to his home community and to the State of Mississippi:  NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the literary career of Lerone Bennett, Jr., of Clarksdale, Mississippi, express the appreciation of the Legislature and welcome him and his family back to his home state.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Mr. Bennett and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.