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  • Vernalee


Updated: Oct 11, 2020

By Vernalee

Hailing from a small town in the Mississippi Delta, notably my home of Glen Allan, was a man of tremendous courage who fought for equal rights. A classic orator, this Civil Rights Activist was named Jake Ayers. He changed the landscape in Glen Allan for poor Black people. I remember the KKK riding in their adorned white robes to stop the impetus of equal rights. I remember the White folks throwing a burning cross in Mr. Ayers’ yard that ignited his gas tank and set his house ablaze with his children and wife inside. But Mr. Ayers locally referred to as “Spike” kept fighting.

Concerned about education, he filed a landmark case that took years to come to fruition, but it opened so many doors for Black children being educated. Allow me to introduce you to the landmark Ayers Case. Here’s the story.

“Three of Mississippi's historically black colleges and universities—Alcorn State, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State—had a lot to gain back in 1975 when Jake Ayers filed a lawsuit against the state in order to improve academic programs and facilities at the state's three public HBCUs. The class-action lawsuit, which includes all black citizens residing in Mississippi, spans more than 25 years. Decades of legal disputes and botched agreements later, in 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice, which got involved on behalf of Ayers and the plaintiffs, and the State came to a $500-million settlement agreement.” There is so much more to tell. Let this case be an encouragement of the vision of the fight, and a reminder that great things can come from small places (such as Glen Allan, Greenville, Greenwood, Leland, Mayersville....).

We salute you Mr. Ayers for fighting on the behalf of Black children to have a better education! Photo Credit:; Reference: The Jackson Free Press


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