Mississippi Trailblazers focus on Tupelo for awards

TUPELO – This is a year of firsts for the Mississippi Trailblazers.
The organization named the recipients of its 2009 awards Thursday, and for the first time, all the recipients are organizations based in Tupelo. The awards for advancement of diversity have been given since 2003.
“In the past we’ve recognized individuals from organizations, but really it was the whole organization that made something happen,” said the Rev. James Hull, president of the Mississippi Trailblazers.
Also, previous winners were selected from throughout the state.
The 2009 honorees are:
- Mississippi Trailblazers of the Year – The Lee County Board of Supervisors, for its work on the recently dedicated civil rights monument at the Lee County Courthouse.
- Tupelo Trailblazers – The Nu Sigma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, for bringing the Ebony Fashion Fair to Tupelo.
- The Rev. Robert Jamison Lifetime Achievement Award – The Lane Chapel Quartet, and the band’s founder, the late Charles Richardson, for continuing to “serve as Tupelo’s ambassadors of goodwill,” Hull said.
- The Rep. Leonard Morris Award for Public Service and Integrity – Mission Mississippi. “The Tupelo chapter of Mission Mississippi has brought together hundreds of Tupelo citizens from all races and religious affiliations to promote racial reconciliation and positive race relations,” Hull said.
- Mississippi Trailblazers are the Tupelo Modern Beauticians and Barbers Club and the Tupelo Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
The Tupelo Modern Beauticians and Barbers Club has planned and promoted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration in Tupelo for almost 20 years.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tupelo promotes racial harmony, Hull said. “They are some of the kindest and gentlest people you’ll ever meet,” he said.
Toy McKinney, president of the Tupelo Modern Beauticians and Barbers Club, said his organization works hard to better the Tupelo community.
“Since we make money from the public, we should give some of it back,” he said. The group also gives scholarships to high school students.
Bob Spencer, president of the Congregation of Unitarian Universalists of Tupelo, said his congregation is about equality and harmony.
“Our fundamental principle is that everybody has the right to their beliefs on God, the universe and their place in it,” he said. “Our souls are the same color.”
This year’s Mississippi Trailblazers events will take place over two evenings.
The Black Tie Jazz gala is May 1 at the Bouldin Building, and the Awards Banquet and Ceremony is May 2 at the Link Centre.
The theme for this year’s events is “Celebrating Tupelo’s Togetherness.”

Contact Sheena Barnett at 678-1580 or sheena.barnett@djournal.com. Also read her entertainment blog, Scene Now, at NEMS360.com/pages/scene_now.

Sheena Barnett/Daily Journal