Alumni Applause

Barbara Blackmon

April 14th, 2016 by giving

Barbara Blackmon (1)

Barbara Blackmon earned a B.S. degree from Jackson State University when she was 19 years old. She furthered her education at the University of Alabama where she obtained a Master’s in Business Administration at age 20. Barbara then worked as a college instructor where many of her students were older than she. Continuing her thirst for learning, Barbara began her studies at the University of Santa Clara Law School and completed them at the University of Mississippi where she garnered a Juris Doctorate Degree. She was on the University of Mississippi Law Journal staff. Always striving to achieve more, Barbara was admitted to the prestigious New York University Tax Law Program and received a LL.M. degree in Taxation. Barbara Blackmon is a distinguished member of the Mississippi State Bar as well as the New York State Bar. Barbara was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Tougaloo College.

Barbara returned home to Jackson, Mississippi and began her legal career developing tax clients and providing competent and courteous representation. Always aware that to whom much is given, much is required; Barbara was compelled to use her expertise to educate her community about the importance of asset building, estate planning and tax planning.

Barbara Blackmon is presently the Managing Partner of Blackmon and Blackmon, PLLC, a small, but aggressive law firm in Canton, Mississippi that does plaintiff and defense work, representing many Fortune 500 clients. Barbara, along with her husband, Edward Blackmon, Jr. is the General Counsel for the General Missionary Baptist State Convention as well as County Attorney for Claiborne County.

Breaking barriers come easy to Barbara Blackmon. In 1992, she was elected the first Black woman to represent Madison, Yazoo and Holmes counties in the Mississippi State Senate.

Barbara Blackmon initially represented Madison, Yazoo, and Holmes County in 1993. As a result of redistricting, she was pitted against the President Pro Tempore of the Senate the same year and defeated him representing Madison, Humphreys and Yazoo Counties for 12 years.

As a state senator, she worked to increase funding for all of Mississippi’s state colleges and universities. She supported the Mississippi Adequate Education Plan to provide equity to poorer school districts and was a champion for senior citizens and children by being a strong and effective voice for sound health care policies. Lt. Governor Eddie Briggs recognized Barbara’s vast business and legal capacity and because of her significant business background, Senator Blackmon was appointed to the powerful Senate Finance Committee where as a newly minted senator she was appointed Vice Chair where she advocated for more economic development in the poorer areas of the state as well as record construction investments at Mississippi’s universities and junior colleges. Lt. Governor Eddie Briggs, also, appointed Barbara to the Legislative Budget Committee and was the first female ever appointed to the Committee from the State Senate. She still holds that distinction. The Committee sets the State’s Budget prior to the Legislature convening. Barbara Blackmon was the first Black in the Senate to be appointed to a subcommittee chair on the Appropriations Committee where she oversaw over $350 million in agency budgets.

As a continuation of her public service, Richboy Entertainment, Inc. launched “The Barbara Blackmon Show” which aired April, 2006 as a news program featuring local and state policy makers, discussing the issues of the day and educating Mississippians on public policies that would enhance the quality of life in the state. The show aired in 68 of the state’s 82 counties each Sunday morning.

Barbara Blackmon served as President of the National Black Caucus of States Institute, a public policy think tank which developed parallel to the National Black Caucus of State Legislators from 2002-2010. She is a former Co-Chair of the National Campaign for Jackson State University’s $50 Million Campaign for scholarships, endowments and programs and served on the Board of Directors for the Jackson State University Foundation. She served on the steering committee for the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi. She has served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Capitol Area, the Boys and Girls Club of Central Mississippi, the Stewpot of Canton, the American Red Cross Central Mississippi Chapter and as President of the Foundation for Education and Economic Development among other community and professional associations.

Barbara and her husband Edward Blackmon, Jr. received an award for Black Philanthropy for having given $1,000,000.00 to Tougaloo College, $750,000.00 to Jackson State University, and providing scholarships and awards to 53 students through their previous Foundation.

She was the 2003 Democratic Nominee for Lieutenant Governor of the State of Mississippi. Barbara Blackmon was the first Black ever to hold that honor. Her run inspired young people of all ages to dream and know that you can achieve that dream. Blackmon is an attorney who lives in Canton and is married to State Representative Edward Blackmon, Jr., who is also the Senior Partner of Blackmon and Blackmon, PLLC. They have two sons, Madison Edward and Bradford Jerome and one granddaughter, Enyla Chenise. The Blackmon’s are members of Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.


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DeMarco Morgan

March 23rd, 2016 by giving

Demarco Morgan (1)

DeMarco Morgan was named a correspondent for CBS News, based in New York City. Morgan, who joins later this year, comes from WXIA the NBC affiliate in Atlanta, where he has been a reporter and main co-anchor of the station’s weekday newscasts since 2012.

After graduating from Jackson State University, Morgan landed his first reporting job at CBS affiliate WJTV in Jackson, Mississippi. In 2004, he joined ABC's WISN in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, co-anchoring alongside Portia Young and serving for three years.

In 2007, he joined NBC's WTVJ in Miami, Florida, as an anchor and reporter. In December 2008, he joined WNBC in New York City. Morgan began his broadcasting career while working on his Master's Degree at Columbia, while in the Graduate School of Journalism he covered the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Morgan taught journalism at JSU for two years and taught English at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Morgan has also taught at Spelman and Morehouse College in Atlanta.

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Dr. Rosie L. T. Pridgen

March 23rd, 2016 by giving

Dr. Rosie Pridgen

Dr. Rosie L. T. Pridgen, a Jackson State University alumna, is the new Chairman of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority (JMAA) Board of Commissioners.

Rosie L. T. Pridgen, Ph. D is a native Mississippian. She has been a resident of Jackson since 1970, after graduating from Jackson State University. In addition to earning the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Educational Specialist, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Jackson State University; Dr. Pridgen also obtained the Masters of Education degree in Blind Rehabilitation, with an emphasis in Orientation and Mobility for the Blind from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has also studied at other Mississippi universities. Dr. Pridgen has been a teacher, substitute teacher, assistant principal, principal, interim superintendent and superintendent. In 2013, she retired from the position of Superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Blind, a position she had held for 15 years. During two and one-half of those years, she concurrently served as Superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Deaf. She is a graduate of Leadership Greater Jackson, an avid volunteer, and a supporter of programs and projects that aim to improve individuals and communities. She is a member of Mt. Carmel Ministries. She has a blended family of four children and eleven grandchildren.

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Michael Daniels

March 23rd, 2016 by giving

Michael Daniels photographFifth Third Bank’s Georgia affiliate, which has locations in the Marietta and Kennesaw areas, announced that Michael Daniels has joined the bank as vice president and business banking relationship manager, focusing on midsized companies with annual revenues up to $10 million. In this role, he is responsible for facilitating new banking relationships in the areas of manufacturing, distribution and professional services.  

Daniels, a Lithonia resident, has more than 10 years of experience in the financial industry. He was previously a business banking relationship officer with SunTrust Bank in Midtown, where he was awarded with President’s Team Retail Banking and MVP Commercial Banking.    

He received a Bachelor of Arts in marketing from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, and a master’s degree in management from the University of Phoenix. He is actively involved with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, United Way and the bank’s LGBT affinity team. 


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Mayor Errick D. Simmons

March 23rd, 2016 by giving

Errick D. Simmons

Attorney Errick D. Simmons is the City of Greenville, Mississippi’s second African-American Mayor (first black male). First elected as a city councilman on January 2, 2008, Mayor Simmons served on the Greenville City Council for eight (8) years where he served as Vice-Mayor his last year on the city council.  As city councilman, Simmons served on the charter and ordinance committee, finance, public safety committee, education, and airport committees.  During his tenure as city councilman, Simmons has balanced eight (8) city budgets totaling over 500 million dollars and managed over $100 million dollars in grants awards.  Simmons is a firm believer that a life lived in service to others is a life worth living. 

Attorney Simmons matriculated through Greenville Public Schools where he graduated second in his class at T. L. Weston High School in 1995, second to his twin brother and law partner, Mississippi State Senator Derrick T. Simmons.  Attorney Simmons later studied at Jackson State University, where he received a Bachelor in Business Administration in Economics in 2000. In 2002, Councilman Simmons received a Masters in Arts in Economics from Howard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and received his Juris Doctorate from Howard University School of Law (HUSL) in 2005.  As the team captain of the nationally-acclaimed HUSL Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy Mock Trial Team, Attorney Simmons led the team to victory defeating two-time reigning champion Harvard Law School to become the first historically black law school to win the American Bar Association International Mock Trial Competition.  Attorney Simmons is a recipient of numerous community services awards by local, state, and national organizations and has been featured in several local, state, and national publications, including but not limited to, Jet Magazine, Dallas Examiner, Chicago Defender, Time, Diversity and the Bar, interviewed by Host Ed Gordon on National Public Radio, congratulated in the United States House of Representatives, and recently featured on the cover of Mississippi’s edition of Attorney-at-Law Magazine for being the Attorney of the Month for November 2014.

After graduation from law school, Attorney Simmons returned home to Greenville to use his educational preparation, professionalism, passion, and dedication to serve the people of Greenville, the Mississippi Delta, and the South as a whole. 

As a leading Mississippi trial lawyer, Simmons is the co-founder/co-owner of Simmons & Simmons, PLLC in Greenville (, an aggressive law firm concentrating on the areas of personal injury and criminal defense. As a trial lawyer, Errick leads the civil division of Simmons & Simmons, PLLC and have achieved results in and outside the courtroom for his clients.  Notable successes include a seven-figure settlement for individuals receiving personal injuries and property damages from exposure to toxic chemicals that were allowed to migrate offsite from a chemical plant.  Simmons also recovered damages for a mother and child while during a traumatic labor the child suffered an Erb’s proximal brachial plexus palsy injury. 

Simmons’ strong advocacy and commitment to our youth have afforded him gubernatorial appointments and national affiliations with some of the leading foundations, non-profits, and private organizations.  Attorney Simmons was named by the National Bar Association and IMPACT as one of 2011 Nation’s Best Advocates: Top 40 Lawyers Under 40.  

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Larry Martin

March 23rd, 2016 by giving

Larry Martin Photograph

Larry Martin investigates the development and implementation of workforce development programs for low-literate employees; organizational culture and climate as they relate to race and ethnicity; and the development and assessment of diversity training programs. His teaching focus includes program planning in urban adult education, and administering and evaluating urban adult education programs.

Martin's research and publications have explored complex urban-related problems, trends and issues that inhibit the participation of adult learners in adult education programs. His involvement with welfare reform culminated in a co-authored text that informs adult literacy professionals on how to more effectively serve adult learners. His most recent book is published by Jossey-Bass and focuses on urban adult education: Adult Education in an Urban Context: Problems, Practices, and Programming for Inner-city Communities.

Martin received his Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and currently serves as the Director of the Urban Education Doctoral Program and as a Professor and Department Chair for the Department of Administrative Leadership at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Martin was inducted into the International Adult & Continuing Education Hall of Fame on November 18.

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Dr. James McGee

March 23rd, 2016 by giving

Dr. James McGee photograph (1)

Dr. James McGee was recently named vice president of instruction at Lone Star College-Montgomery in Texas.

Joining LSC-Montgomery from Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois, Dr. McGee has served as the dean of mathematics, science and engineering since 2011. He has served in a variety of other positions including dean of mathematics, education, science and health at Kishwaukee College in Matla, Illinois, department chair and instructor at Malcom X College in Chicago, Illinois, and also worked for Illinois Institute of Technology as an assistant professor.

"Dr. McGee is uniquely qualified to serve in this important role for the college," said Dr. Rebecca Riley, president of LSC-Montgomery. "He posses the attributes and characteristics we need on this campus, as well as all the qualifications to make him an extremely valuable asset to our administrative team here at LSC-Montgomery.”

Dr. McGee earned his bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Jackson State University in Mississippi, and his masters of applied mathematics degree from Auburn University in Alabama, where he also attained his doctorate in mathematics.

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Korey Johnson

February 10th, 2016 by alumnirelations

Perspectives of an African-American Male in Medicine by Korey Johnson, BS Second year MD student

korey johnson

Imagine a life where you’re potential is predetermined from birth. Due to multiple factors beyond your control, your ceiling is set. The limit is well before the sky, so to speak.  Growing up an African American male in Arkansas, a former staple of the confederacy, can come with a limited worldview. I had not realized this until recently, but I didn’t meet a black physician until my sophomore year of college. I was always an excellent student and never lacked confidence. My mother and father, a teacher and butcher respectively, were always encouraging me to expect and desire more for myself. During my childhood, I saw plenty of barbers, ministers, mechanics, and other manual laborers who shared my complexion and my personality. I could see pieces of friends, family members, and myself in them. This connection was missing from my interactions with the multiple physicians I encountered throughout my life. Subconsciously, the thought of ever pursuing of career in medicine was swept away before it ever began. In my mind, black people didn’t become doctors. This was not because I figured we were somehow inherently incapable, but because I had never seen it with my own two eyes.  As the saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind”.

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Torrence Mayfield

September 2nd, 2015 by giving


Torrence Mayfield was chosen as the new police chief for the town of Edwards.

Chief Mayfield will head the force that will serve the more than 700 residents in the town.

The 45-year-old Chicago has been in law enforcement for over a decade.

Chief Mayfield oversees a seven member department.


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Carlyn Hicks

August 18th, 2015 by giving

Carolyn Hicks 2

Carlyn Hicks, a senior staff attorney and director of the Parent Representation program for Mission First Legal Aid Clinic in Jackson was the recipient of the National Child Advocacy Award from the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division.

Founded in 1878, the American Bar Association seeks to improve the administration of justice, accredit law schools and establish model ethical codes for the legal profession. There are more than 400,000 ABA members.

Hicks says, “Collectively, we are working to improve the lives of children and families. Together, we are empowering parents, protecting children and strengthening families. I’m grateful to be part of it.”

The Mission First Legal Aid Clinic offers legal services through a partnership between MC Law and First Baptist Church Jackson. Hicks began working with the office in Mississippi’s capital city in 2010.

When away from her professional duties in Jackson, Carlyn remains a devoted wife and mother. She and her husband, Derrick, are the parents of a daughter, Leigh Marie.

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