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Celebrating ‘heroes and sheroes’ in Lafayette County

You don’t have to look nationwide to find heroes. They exist in your own community.

That’s what West Point native Janice Carr and the Gordon Community and Culture Center Board of Directors are trying to convey with an event scheduled for 1.p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27, that will be “Celebrating the Heroes and Sheroes of Lafayette County.”

Carr, who works at the University of Mississippi in information technology and has been a substitute teacher for decades, said the event will be held in the Gordon Center at Abbeville School, the first county-sponsored school for African-American students.

“We love our national heroes,” said Carr, “but there are a lot of local people who were very prominent in bringing about justice in Lafayette County. We have never really given them the kind of recognition they should have received.

“They are people who sacrificed a lot to gain voting rights and human rights. We are celebrating the lives of some of the people who were alive in the era of segregation in Mississippi.”

Carr said three of the people celebrated at the event are deceased. Three others will present their stories.

“Some have good memories of when James Meredith entered the university,” Carr said. “I believe many of them worked there at the time. I think there are some who lost their jobs because of it.”

Carr said they hope school children will attend the event and learn from the experiences of the honorees.

“We want school children to hear about the people who are right around them,” she said, “so our young children can learn that there are heroes in your community. You don’t always have to look nationally.”

This is the first year the event has been held. Carr said they plan to hold it annually.

This year, they are recognizing civil rights leaders. Next year, they plan to recognize teachers.

“For each year, we have a different theme,” she said.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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