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Co-Lin program to focus on Hiram Rhodes Revels

The occasion was momentous when Hiram Rhodes Revels raised his right hand on Feb. 25, 1870, pledging to uphold his duties as a member of the 41st congress.

He became the first African American to hold a seat in the United States Senate. This accomplishment is just one of many firsts for this remarkable American who is an eminent figure in the history of Natchez and the United States.

Hiram Revels, a highly educated minister, in 1866 became the first pastor of Zion A.M.E Church in Natchez. As a gifted orator, he soon was involved in politics. In 1868 he was first elected as a city alderman and then was elected to the Mississippi state senate.

He attracted attention as a state senator with his compelling skills and in 1870 was selected by the state Legislature to fill one of the two United States Senate seats left vacant since the onset of the Civil War.

After completing his Senate term and declining positions offered to him by President Ulysses S. Grant, Revels returned to Mississippi, where he was selected as the first president of Alcorn State University. Formerly known as Oakland College, Alcorn became the first land-grant university for black students in the United States.  Revels led Alcorn for two separate tenures, 1871-1874 and 1876-1882.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 The Carolyn Vance Smith Natchez Literary Research Center at the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Library is honored to host a special Black History Month program. It commemorates the 150th anniversary this month of Hiram Rhodes Revels’ swearing-in as a member of the United States Senate.

We are especially pleased to have Dr. Robert Luckett, Director of the Margaret Walker Center and tenured Associate Professor of History at Jackson State University presenting the program.

Dr. Luckett, a graduate of Yale University and the University of Georgia, is the author of the book “Joe T. Patterson and the White South’s Dilemma: Evolving Resistance to Black Advancement” published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2015.

He has also contributed chapters in several other books on the civil rights movement. In 2017, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, appointed Dr. Luckett to the Board of Trustees of Jackson Public Schools, and, in 2018, Dr. Luckett was recognized for his work on racial equality with a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellowship.

Everyone is invited to attend this special program honoring Hiram Revels, a Natchez pioneer of many “firsts,” who was truly a trailblazing statesman, minister, and educator.

This free event at noon Feb. 11 will be held at Co-Lin’s Natchez Campus in the Nelson Multi-Purpose Room. This is located in the Redd Watkins Career and Technical Education Building, 30 Campus Drive. 

If you have any questions about the program or would like more information, please email beth.richard@colin.edu or call 601.446.1107.

Beth Richard is the Willie Mae Dunn Library director at Copiah-Lincoln Community College campus in Natchez.