Civil rights icons honored at the 2016 Heritage Awards

Civil rights icons honored at the 2016 Heritage Awards


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Mississippi Power hosted the 2016 Heritage Awards on Saturday at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, honoring four individuals for their pioneering efforts in the areas of human and civil rights.

The recipients were Joseph Hudson of Gulfport; Jesse Palmer of Meridian; Constance Slaughter-Harvey of Forest; and George Watson of Pass Christian.

This marked the third year for the event and approximately 500 people were in attendance.

Chevron Pascagoula Refinery General Manager Bruce Chinn was the event’s guest speaker. Others on the program included Marcus Glover, general manager of the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Edmond Hughes, Ingalls Shipbuilding vice president of human resources, and Gary Fredericks, president of the Gulfport chapter of NAACP.

The honorees join a growing list of esteemed individuals who have shown leadership and commitment to making Mississippi a better place to live. Each of the honorees thanked their families and the sponsors for the recognition as they accepted their awards.

“We are so proud to honor individuals who have shown unwavering dedication to enhancing the diversity within our great state,” said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson. “The Heritage Awards has become one of our marquee events and it gives us the opportunity to celebrate and recognize these individuals for their selfless and brave efforts to influence and champion civil rights.”

Joseph Hudson

Born in Biloxi, Hudson went to work for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1973. He provided legal counsel for local civil rights leaders and served on numerous church and public interest boards and committees including the Mississippi Law Income Child Care Initiative; Magnolia Bar Association/Foundation; the Catholic Foundation, Catholic Diocese of Biloxi; and NAACP, Gulfport of which he is a life member.

Jesse E. Palmer, Sr.

Palmer is a native and resident of Meridian, where he dedicated his life to educating youth through his teaching and coaching career. He also served the city of Meridian on the Transportation Commission and the City Council, serving as councilman for 24 years. In 2008, Palmer was elected to the Mississippi Hall of Fame.

Constance Slaughter-Harvey

From Forest, Slaughter-Harvey is the first African-American woman to receive a law degree from the University of Mississippi Law School. An encounter with civil rights leader Medgar Evers and his brutal death inspired her efforts to bring civil rights change to Mississippi. Throughout her career spanning decades of achievement in private practice and public service, she amassed an extensive and impressive list of accomplishments. Since 2005, Slaughter-Harvey has served as Scott County Youth Court Prosecutor. As founder and president of Slaughter Memorial Foundation, she supervises an after-school program where she spends her free time teaching and mentoring at-risk children.

George Watson

A native of Pass Christian, Watson served in the U.S. Marines during World War II. After discharge he earned his degree, became a teacher, and went on to serve as assistant superintendent for the Pass Christian School District. Watson played a key role in the integration of the Pass Christian School District. He has long been involved in his community including serving as Commissioner for the Mississippi Public Service Commission and a member of the Park Commission.