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Miss. Highway Patrol Honors Some of First African-American Troopers

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 01 Jul 2013 03:16pm | comments
Photo courtesy of Lawayne Childrey/MPB News

It's been 40 years since African Americans broke the color barrier at the Mississippi Highway Patrol and this year they are being honored for their trail blazing efforts.  

In the late 1960's the NAACP filed a lawsuit on behalf of Willie Morrow  that helped end discrimination in hiring, practices within the Mississippi Highway Patrol.  As a result   Bentonia native, Lewis Younger was one of three blacks who joined the highway patrol in 1972. 

"I applied for it because I was just curious what the test was like, they said everybody was failing,"  said Younger.  "Like I say, there were no rolemodels for me in law enforcement at that time, but I felt like I had to persevere, you know, go through with it, not only for me, it was kind of like I was part of the movement, the Civil Rights Movement at that time."    

 Pike County native Richard Williams and Walter Crosby attended trooper school with Younger.  Williams says the experience was a turning point for them all.

"To be the first to set an example or a standard per se for others to follow, the Highway Patrol was known as an elite organization and if you made it through patrol school then that was that respect because they knew what you went through to get to where you are because they had to cross that same rugged road that you crossed," said Williams.    

The work, spirit and courage of Younger, Crosby and Williams helped pave the way for others including Master Sergeant Dennis Stevens of Biloxi who is serving his 17th  year of duty.    

"As a matter of fact, because of what happened forty years ago, in 2002, the first African-American became the first Colonel of the Highway Patrol, and even today, the colonel of the Highway Patrol is and African-American and plus, we have right at approximately 38% African-American troopers that are out there wearing the blue and grey so that's the positive impact that I'm talking about," describes Stevens.  

The African-American trailblazers were honored in Jackson this weekend by the Mississippi Central State Troopers Coalition.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Lawayne Childrey/MPB News


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