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Sadie V. Thompson era graduates to gather for annual reunion weekend

Natchez area graduates will return to celebrate their &uot;shared past and present&uot; this weekend at the third annual Sadie V. Thompson Era Reunion.

The reunion joins people who graduated between 1954 and 1970 from Sadie V. Thompson High School, Natchez College and St. Francis School in the years before desegregation in the Natchez school system.

&uot;This time represents our shared past and present,&uot; said Arthur Jackson, Natchez Park Ranger and a reunion committee chairman.

&uot;People are eager to come back to see each other and to see Natchez. There have been a lot of changes – and people like to get out and see that,&uot; said Mary Ann Henderson, owner of &uot;Mary Magnolia&uot; Bed and Breakfast, and one of the event’s organizers.

This year’s event chairman, Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West, said that even though there is a 16-year span which the &uot;era&uot; covers, graduates have &uot;all found common ground.&uot;

&uot;We wanted to be the best – and we proved that in the walks (of life) in the United States that our classes chose to go into,&uot; said George &uot;Shake&uot; Harden. &uot;We want to exemplify to our children that this is what can happen when you come from a segregated school.&uot;

Harden pointed out that era graduates include State Rep. Philip West, D-Natchez, and a national correspondent from Newsweek magazine. Harden and Theodore West have also served as Natchez aldermen.

&uot;We had some of the best athletic people in the state and some of the most gifted people, also,&uot; Philip West said. &uot;We came along when we were not allowed access to equal opportunity in the community, which resulted in an outward migration (from Natchez). This was a planned, deliberate effort in the 40s and 50s.&uot;

&uot;The economic impact to the community is phenomenal,&uot; Bubber West said. &uot;There will be 800 to 1,000 attendees to the reunion, multiply that by three for family members that they will bring along, and that equates to full hotels and restaurants as well as any entertainment in the Natchez area.&uot;

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