From press and staff reports
With our society dealing with the ongoing issues of racial inequality and injustice, many of us are not old enough to remember a number of pioneers from a past time that are responsible for making things better for this generation. For members of the Noxapater community, the “Noxapater Seven” are living testaments to true pioneers in the battle for racial equality in southern America. This is their story.
In 1948, President Truman ended the segregation of the armed forces and in 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States decided that, a separate school for Blacks and Whites was illegal.
The 1964 Freedom Summer played an important part in changing the old system of segregation. About 1,000 volunteer workers – black and white, Northern and Southern, men and women, college-age and older entered Mississippi. Their main aims were to help in political organization, to set up freedom schools for both young people and adults, and to bring national attention to conditions in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Summer Project of 1964 was under the direction of Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), staffed mostly by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) volunteers, with help from the Mississippi NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference. During this time, Aaron Henry, state head of the NAACP, was president of COFO.
As a result of this activity, teams of volunteers were dispatched throughout Winston and Neshoba County. A Freedom School was formed at Mt. Pleasant #2 Church in Noxapater. The school helped teach voter registration, crafts and other self-help skills. Many initiatives for equality were undertaken. The subject of integrating schools was one of the main initiatives during that time.
It was decided that the way to accomplish the integration of Noxapater would be to start with the younger grades first. Thus, “The Noxapater Seven” was formed. In 1965, seven little children of the Hathorn Community of Mt. Pleasant #2 MB Church integrated Noxapater Elementary School.
To honor those seven brave people, Mt. Pleasant #2 held a special event entitled “Reflections of the Noxapater Seven 2013” at their church on Aug. 31. The event allowed the seven, as well as the whole community, to reflect on the historical events that took place 48 years ago.
The Noxapater Seven are Curtis Spiva, Frederick Young, Virginia-Young Wade, Sedrick Young, Alfred Henson, William Thomas Spiva, and Phylis Ann-Young. Only three of the seven members were not present (Curtis Spiva, Virginia-Young Wade, and Sedrick Young.
The event began with an hour-long Meet & Greet, which allowed the members of the Noxapater Seven to reminisce with the community and to reconnect with special guests and former teachers. Special guests attending the program were David Vowell, Betty Suttle, Doris Hamilton, Orbazean Hoskins, Thomas Brooks, Mayor Roger Crowder, Mayor Sammy Carter, and Charles Hampton.
The Mt. Pleasant Decorating and Kitchen Committees had the Fellowship Hall filled with memorabilia from the times past, including yearbooks and photos from that time period. They also served all who came with a wonderful meal.
The Meet & Greet was then followed by the initial program, which began with an introduction of the Master of Ceremony, Mr. Alex Henson. Henson greeted the crowd as he moved on to the next part of the program – a scripture read by Mrs. Brenda McCreary, followed by a prayer from Rev. Mack Lee Young.
Next, MC Henson provided the guest and others with the occasion, which was to reflect on a time where seven children and their parents made a stand for something bigger than themselves. Henson also spoke of the 4 F’s (faith, family, food, & friends), and how they were so important to this group of special people.
The occasion was followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Next, MC Henson introduced the four attending members of the “Noxapater Seven” to the audience. The members who did not attend were represented by their respective family member. The crowd greeted all of them with a warm applause.
The next part of the program reflected on the parents of the Noxapater Seven. One of those reflections was done by Bobby Spiva-Hall. Spiva-Hall gave a background of her parents, and retold of how they held on to their greatest weapon, the Bible and its word, to make it through a tough and challenging time in all of their lives.
During the parent reflections, many members of the community from that time came and spoke of what they experienced and how things were still the same in a way today.
The next portion of the program allowed the members of the Noxapater Seven to share their reflections with the audience. Each of the four members present all gave accounts of what it was like attending the school , as well as the hardships and troubles their parents faced for making the decision to enroll the children in the school. With most being very young, they all reflect on how they did not realize the magnitude of the situation until later in their lives.
They all mentioned how the church played an integral part in the advances that were made over those years.
These remarks were followed with the recognition of a number of teachers who taught during that time as well as their reflections. The program concluded with remarks from Rev. Johnson, Pastor of Mt. Pleasant #2 MB Church, followed by the singing of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice & Sing”.
The Noxapater Seven hope that these historical events will now be known to all, and that their story will provide hope and inspiration both for their generation, as well as generations to follow.
Biographical Summaries of the Noxapater Seven
Curtis Spiva was born on Jan. 20, 1959 in the Mt. Pleasant community to Mr. Johnnie Lee Spiva, Sr. and Mrs. Leola (Eichelberger) Spiva (deceased). He is the 9th of 11 children. Curtis started school in 1965 at Noxapater Elementary School in Noxapater. He was one of the first blacks to begin first grade along with his first cousin, Virginia Young and her first cousin Frederick Young. Curtis and Thomas (brother) rode to school from the first day and sat in the front row seats.
He played football and basketball while in school and graduated from Noxapater High School in 1979. Curtis worked at Belwood in Ackerman for six years. He then moved to Milwaukee, WI in 1987 to seek better opportunities. He worked at Peck Foods for six years, Kraft Foods for 13 years, and has worked at C & D Technologies since 2007. Curtis is married (Beverly) and have three children (Kimberly, Crystal, and Curtis), eight grandchildren (four boys & four girls) and currently lives in Milwaukee, WI.
Frederick “Fred” Young
Frederick Young was born Sept. 30, 1959 in Jones County, MS to Mr. Roosevelt and Mrs. Lillie Mae (Hamilton) Young (deceased). At the age of 5, Frederick began 1st grade at Noxapater Elementary School where Mrs. Sue Cade was his 1st grade teacher. He attended Noxapater Elementary until 1970 when his parents moved to Atlanta, GA. His father had accepted calling to the ministry and went to the Gammon Theological Ministry for four years.
After returning to Mississippi, his father accepted a position in Kosciusko later returning to the Mt. Pleasant Community where he continued his education at Noxapater in the 8th grade. Fred graduated Noxapater High School in 1978. In 1979-1980, he attended the Golden Triangle Vocational Center in Columbus where he cultivated his skills in construction.
Fred currently resides in Laurel and is employed by Masonite as a Quality Control Inspector. Fred has one daughter.
Sedrick “Bo Bo” Young
Sedrick Young was born June 29, 1958 in Bay Springs to Mr. Roosevelt and Mrs. Lillie Mae (Hamilton) Young (deceased). At the age of 7 Sedrick began 2nd grade at Noxapater Elementary School where Ms. Hensley was his teacher. Sedrick continued on through elementary until he reached the 7th grade when his parents moved to Atlanta, GA. His father had accepted calling to the ministry and went to the Gammon Theological Ministry for four years.
After returning to Mississippi, his father accepted a position in Kosciusko later returning to the Mt. Pleasant Community to live. Sedrick returned to Noxapater High School in 1973 in the 10th grade where he continued his education and focused on academics and sports. After graduating HS in 1976, Sedrick attended Tugaloo College in Jackson, where he majored in Accounting and Chemistry. While at Tugaloo he played baseball for three years.
In 1982, Sedrick enlisted in the Air Force as an Inventory Management Specialist where he completed a six year tour of duty in which he served in Panama City, Panama for three years. After completing his duty he started working construction until retirement in 2010. Sedrick is married (Dorothy Jean) lives in Hathorn community and have two boys (Sedrick Daniels & Antonio) and one girl (Laqunda).
Phylis Ann Young-Triplett
Phylis Ann Young-Triplett was born May 27, 1957 to Mr. Will Gus Young, Jr. and Caroline (Eichelberger) Young (deceased) in Winston County. At the age of 6 in 1963, Phylis attended 1st and 2nd grade at Noxapater Colored Elementary School. In 1965, Phylis was enrolled as one of the first seven Black Children to integrate Noxapater Elementary (All-White) School. Phylis grew up in the Hathorn Community attending Mt. Pleasant #2 MB Church where she is presently a faithful member.
Her father was a farmer, carpenter, and a bus driver with the Head Start in Louisville MS. Her mother was a wife, mother and homemaker. She canned, helped with the farming, taught her children how to make quilts, wash and iron. Later, she worked for the Home Extension Office in Louisville MS.
During high school, Phylis was active in sports and focused on academics. She played basketball for three years, starting for two and ran track. During the summer, she played softball for Mt. Pleasant. She graduated in 1975 and went on to attend Jackson State University majoring in Biology with a minor in Pre-Nursing.
After completing two years at Jackson State, she transferred to Meridian Junior College and received her Associated Degree in Nursing 1979. Phylis professional career began in 1981 as a Registered Nurse at Winston Medical Center in Louisville, MS and she is currently employed by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians as an Evening Supervisor. Phylis currently resides in Noxapater, MS and is active in her community. Phylis is married (Henry Lee) and has two girls and eight grandchildren.
William “Thomas” Spiva
William “Thomas” Spiva was born on March 11, 1957 to Mr. Johnnie Lee Spiva, Sr. and Mrs. Leola (Eichelberger) Spiva (D). Thomas is the 8th child of eleven children. He was one of the Noxapater Seven, a group of African-American students who in 1965 were one the first black students ever to attend classes at Noxapater Elementary School in Noxapater, Mississippi.
Thomas father was a minister, farmer, carpenter, and a local civil rights leader in Noxapater, MS. His mother was a wife, mother and homemaker. She later worked for the HeadStart program at Mt. Pleasant MBC. His father and mother ran a restaurant and grocery store in Louisville, MS.
Thomas first attended Noxapater Elementary Colored School for the first and second grades. Later, in 1965 integrating Noxapater Elementary (All White) School. Thomas graduated Noxapater High School in 1975 concentrating on academics, playing football and running track.
In the fall of 1975, Thomas attended Mississippi State University majoring in Computer Science. In 1978, Thomas served in the U.S. Army for three years as an enlisted Electronic Warfare Signal Intelligence Analyst attaining the rank of SGT/E-5. In 1981, he returned to Mississippi State where he received his BA in Computer Science and Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1984 from the Army ROTC program.
After graduating from Mississippi State, he attended his Officer Basic Training, then he served in reserve unit in Ft. Meade, MD where later he became the Company Commander. In 1985, he began his professional career as a Computer Analyst at the Department of Defense at Ft. Meade, MD where he worked for three years. In 1989, he moved his family to Detroit metro area when he worked for Electronic Data System (EDS) and in 1998 he moved to Atlanta, GA where he continued to work for EDS. Thomas is currently a Database Analyst and owner of his own company, Spiva Virtual Technology Group, INC (SVTG).
Thomas is married (Caroline) and has two daughters (Ashley and Whitney) and currently lives in Powder Springs, GA.
Virginia is the youngest of eight children, born to Mr. William Guss Jr. and Mrs. Caroline Decina (Eichelberger) Young (D) and grew up in the Hathorn Community and was a member of Mt. Pleasant #2 MB Church. Her father was a farmer, carpenter, and a bus driver with the Head Start in Louisville MS. Her mother was a wife, mother and homemaker. She canned, helped with the farming, taught her children how to make quilts, wash and iron. She later worked for the Home Extension Office in Louisville MS.
On September 1965, Virginia along with six other students (now known as The Noxapater Seven) made a historical move with their parents to integrate Noxapater Elementary (All White) School. She was the FIRST black female to begin 1st grade along with her two first cousins; Curtis Spiva and Frederick Young. Our parents were informed the night prior to going to school that members of the KKK and other angry mob forces would be surrounding the school to stop us from attending. Although attempts and obstacles were made to prevent us from integrating, they were unsuccessful!!!
Virginia Young-Wade attended Jackson State University in 1977, but left to be with her husband who had joined the military. She later returned to JSU, but decided to join the military herself in December 1986.
Virginia served in the U.S. Air Force for five years as a Protocol Clerk, and two years as the NCOIC, Command Quality at HQ AU, Maxwell AFB AL. She then served for three years as Asst NCOIC, Mission Support at USAF Senior NCO Academy, and Administrative Assistant to Resource Program Director at Gunter AFB AL. She did a Temporary Duty assignment in Incirlik Turkey for four months. After returning from Turkey, she received an assignment to Warner Robins GA as Information Manager for three years.
After that, she returned to MAFB AL as NCOIC, Introductory Flight Training Program Manager for one year; NCOIC, Publishing, for one year; and Chief, Computer and Information Support, HQ AF Officer Accession and Training Schools for six years. She was assigned Temporary Duty at Logistics Transformation and Automation Division Administration, HQ CENTCOM, MacDill AFB FL for four months and retired after 20 years.
While serving until her retirement in 2007, she received several honors and recognitions during her military career. While assigned at MAFB AL she enrolled in Troy University, Montgomery, AL where she completed her formal education and received her BS in Business Management in December 1990.
Virginia is married (Herbert P) and has one son (Keith) who is married to LaDanna Burris. They have four children Tyresha Burris, Mekhi Burris, Diamond Wade and Leah Wade.
Alfred “Al” Henson
Alfred Henson was born at Mattie Hearse Hospital in Meridian, MS in 1957 to the parents of Mr. Dewitt and Mrs. Laura Dell (Hathorn) Henson (D). He is the youngest of three children and grew up in the Hathorn Community of Noxapater, MS beginning his formative years at Mt. Pleasant #2 MB Church.
At the age of 6, he became active in 4H-Club led by Mr. Dean. After Mr. Dean’s retirement, Mr. Roger Crowder took over as County Agent and became instrumental in furthering Al’s development in public speaking resulting in him going to various local and state level events to compete.
In September 1963, he began his formal education attending Noxapater Elementary Colored School. Attending the 1st and 2nd grades there, he along with six other children integrated Noxapater Elementary (All-White) School in September 1965.
After graduating from high school in 1975 and Mississippi State University in 1979 earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing, he started working for Roses Department Stores in their Management Training Program.
In 1981, he entered the Army awaiting a class date for Officers Candidate School graduating in 1982 and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in Transportation. Completing his Officers Basic Course, he was stationed at Ft. Campbell, KY where he was responsible for Air-Load Operations for 101st Airborne Division. After completing his obligation and his tour of duty, he continued his military service in the Army Reserves working in various assignments; General’s Aide-de-Camp, Commands and completing required schooling and training, deployments to South West Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Al retired from Military Service as a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army on 14 May 2010.
Al currently resides in Birmingham, AL and works for Headquarters, US Army Material Command (AMC), Huntsville, AL. He serves as a Logistician charted to plan, direct, coordinate, synchronize and integrate the functional requirement process of the Single Army Logistics Enterprise (SALE). Prior to working as a Department of Army Civilian, he had a successful civilian career in Pharmaceutical’s as a Sales Representative, Managed Care Representative and Manger. Al subsequently has received and acquired additional training and certification in Acquisition, Logistics, System Engineering, Data and Program Management.
Al is married (Michelle) and has two sons (Devon & Brandon), one daughter (Mia) and nine grandchildren.