Elvis Presley named to Mississippi Hall of Fame

Published 5:28 pm Monday, December 12, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll and four others are being named to the Mississippi Hall of Fame.

The board of the state Department of Archives and History met this month and selected the inductees: Evelyn Gandy, the first woman elected lieutenant governor of the state; Dr. James Hardy, who was a transplant surgeon; former state Rep. Aaron Henry, who was a civil-rights activist; rocker Elvis Presley; and Ida B. Wells, a journalist and women’s rights advocate.

“The contributions and accomplishments of these five Mississippians are astonishing, and a true testament to the character of the people of the state,” Archives and History Director Katie Blount said in a news release Monday.

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With the new inductees, the Hall of Fame now includes 136 artists, activists, political leaders and others. New members are selected once every five years, and each group is limited to five inductees.

Those chosen can be either native-born Mississippians or people who moved to the state. They must have been dead at least five years.

Hall of Fame portraits hang in the Senate chamber of the Old Capitol in downtown Jackson.

The Archives and History news release says:

— Gandy was born in 1920 in Hattiesburg. She earned her law degree in 1943, was elected to the state Legislature in 1947 and became the first woman to serve as assistant attorney general, commissioner of public welfare, state treasurer, commissioner of insurance and lieutenant governor. She twice ran unsuccessfully for governor. Gandy supported advances in education, women’s rights, health care and human services. She died in 2007.

— Hardy was born in 1918 in Newala, Alabama. He earned his medical degree in 1942, and then served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War II. In 1955, Hardy became the founding chairman of surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. In 1963, he led the team that performed the world’s first lung transplant. In 1964, Hardy and his team transplanted the heart of a chimpanzee into a dying man, predating the first human-to-human heart transplant by three years. He died in 2003.

— Henry was born in 1922 in the small Mississippi town of Dublin. After serving in the Army, he earned his pharmaceutical degree and opened a pharmacy in Clarksdale. In 1951, he helped found the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, which promoted civil rights, voting rights and business ownership. Henry organized the Clarksdale branch of the NAACP, and in 1959 was elected state president of the civil rights group. He started the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and the Council of Federated Organizations. In 1962, Henry organized a mock state gubernatorial election and was the candidate in that “freedom vote.” Henry, a Democrat, served in the Mississippi House of Representatives 1982-96. He died in 1997.

— Presley was born in 1935 in Tupelo, and his parents bought him a guitar for his 11th birthday. He developed a musical style that combined pop, country, gospel and rhythm and blues. Presley released seventeen chart-topping albums during his lifetime, starred in more than 30 movies, won multiple Grammys and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into multiple music halls of fame. He died at home in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1977.

— Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs in 1862. She taught in Mississippi and Tennessee, and won a lawsuit against the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in 1887 after being removed from a first-class car for which she had purchased a ticket. Wells bought a stake in a small newspaper and began a campaign against inequitable school funding, lynching and segregation, and in support of economic boycotts and women’s rights. She eventually moved to New York City and then Chicago, where she continued to write about lynching in the South. In 1909, Wells helped form the NAACP. She died in 1931.