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Why doesn’t Mississippi Recognize Civil Rights Leader, Cleve McDowell?

What is left of a small downtown Drew, Mississippi church that was started by the Rev. Cleve McDowell, also a Delta lawyer. McDowell, who once worked for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the SCLC, was murdered in 1997 in his home.

…This is one of many Mississippi photos that I took when living in the Delta, several years ago. The story of McDowell is particularly interesting because he is a forgotten civil rights leader who was murdered in 1997. For all of his accomplishments (see below) why can’t the state archivist give me information as to where any of his papers are located, or simply why nothing has been placed in the state’s civil rights collection about him?

As the cotton dust flies, Mississippi Delta lawyer (the late) Cleve McDowell, left, gets an assist in his state legislature campaign from Rev. Jesse Jackson, a friend and civil rights colleague. McDowell kept in regular contact with Emmett Till’s mother, working to resolve who killed her son in Money, Mississippi in the summer of 1955.

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE
1997 Regular Session
To: Rules
By: Representatives Coleman (29th), Richardson, Bailey, Banks, Blackmon, Bozeman, Broomfield, Clark, Clarke, Coleman (65th), Ellis, Evans, Flaggs, Fredericks, Gibbs, Green (96th), Green (72nd), Henderson (9th), Henderson (26th), Huddleston, Middleton, Morris, Myers, Perkins, Robinson (63rd), Scott (80th), Smith (27th), Straughter, Thornton, Walker, Wallace, Watson, Young

House Concurrent Resolution 141

(As Adopted by House and Senate)

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION COMMENDING THE LIFE AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF DR. CLEVE MCDOWELL.
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell was born to the late Mr. and Mrs. Fudge McDowell on August 6, 1941, in Drew, Mississippi, and departed this life on Thursday, March 13, 1997; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell was an honor graduate of the Drew Public Schools, where he served as class president, editor of the school newspaper, captain of the debating team and a member of several varsity sports teams; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell was also an honor graduate of Jackson State University in 1963, and while at Jackson State University he worked as a student assistant under the late Medgar Evers, and later became the first African-American student to attend a white graduate school in Mississippi by enrolling in the University of Mississippi Law School with the aid of a federal court order and United States Army troops in June of 1963; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell later enrolled in Texas Southern University Law School in Houston, Texas, where he became President of the Student Bar Association and received several merit awards; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell later worked on the Field Staff for the Mississippi State Conference and then later the Chicago Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and served on committees of the National Youth Development of the NAACP as a program director in community relations in Houston, Texas, and as a Subscribing Life Member, McDowell also served as a three-term member of the National Youth Work Committee of the NAACP and served on the committees of the Mississippi State Conference and acted as legal advisor to several branches; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell was the Senior Pastor of the Greater Holly Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Drew, Mississippi, a member of Sunflower County General Association, the School Board of the City of Drew, Mississippi, Chairman of the Sunflower County, Mississippi, State Democratic Party, and also served as the Public Defender for Sunflower County, Mississippi, Public Defender for the City of Drew, Mississippi, and also served as a member of the Board of Aldermen and past Vice-Mayor of the City of Drew, Mississippi; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell was a member of the Mississippi State Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Magnolia Bar Association, and was admitted to practice in the Northern and Southern United States District Courts, Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals and the Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals; and
WHEREAS, in April 1969, Dr. Cleve McDowell joined the Mississippi Head Start Training Coordinating Council as its Executive Director, and in 1973, he joined the Governor’s Office of Human Resources and OEO as the Head Start Coordinator for the State of Mississippi, and in May of 1974, Dr. Cleve McDowell became Associate Director of the Mississippi Bar Legal Services Program where he served until he started his private practice of Law in Drew, Mississippi, in 1975; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell served as Managing Attorney for the North Mississippi Rural Legal Service in Clarksdale, Mississippi, from 1977 to 1979 and later served as a member of the Mississippi State Penitentiary Board of Directors before he was elected to serve as Tunica County Judge in 1978; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell was an active member of Epsilon Xi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and was Worshipful Master of Drew Lodge Number 6 of the Most Worshipful Stringer Masonic Grand Lodge (Prince Hall) of Mississippi, and was also a member of the Knights Templars, Royal Arch, a Thirty-Second Degree and Shriner Masonic Units; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Cleve McDowell leaves to celebrate his homegoing, one goddaughter, Yolando McDowell; two godsons, Cleve Demarcus McDowell and Kwasi McDowell; five sisters, Mabel Brown of Chicago, Illinois, Juanita McDowell, Gennette (W. L., Jr.) Smith, Nellie (Lacy) Wilson of Drew, Mississippi, and Betty Adams of Los Angeles, California; four brothers, Willie Adams of Los Angeles, California, Douglas (Phelisia) McDowell of Memphis, Tennessee, Robert (Carrie) Wells of Chicago, Illinois, and Otis (Mary) McDowell of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky; three aunts, Cora Walker of Marks, Mississippi, Bennie Franklin of Chicago, Illinois, and Angelia Route of Columbus, Ohio; two sisters-in-law, Ada and Dorothy McDowell of Chicago, Illinois; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends and a special niece, Juanita Shanice Smith.
WHEREAS, it is the policy of this Legislature to commend excellence in leadership, especially when it is exhibited by one who has served diligently as a spiritual leader of his community:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE SENATE CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the life and accomplishments of Dr. Cleve McDowell and express the Legislature’s deepest sympathy upon his passing.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to the family of Dr. Cleve McDowell and the members of the Capitol Press Corps.