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The American Almanac – October 5, 2011

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For legendary Grambling State University football coach Eddie G. Robinson, football has always been the driving force motivating one of the most successful men to have ever set foot on a football field. Coach Robinson spent 57 seasons consistently fielding stellar football teams and guiding his young charges to successful lives both on and off the gridiron. His earned an unprecedented 408 college football victories to set the NCAA’s benchmark for wins in Division I. Coach Robinson retired with an overall record of 408 wins, 165 losses, and 15 ties. Though ultra-successful, Coach Robinson has always remained humble, crediting his players, his family, his loving wife Doris, the media, and football fans from all over the world for making the name Eddie Robinson synonymous with the best that college football has to offer. On October 7, 1995, Robinson became the first college football coach to break the 400-win barrier, a mark once thought to be unreachable. The 42-6 triumph over Mississippi Valley State came before a national television audience on ESPN2. “Nobody has ever done or will ever do what Eddie Robinson has done for this game,” legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno said. “Our profession will never, ever be able to repay Eddie Robinson for what he has done for this country and the profession of football.” Time after time Coach Robinson proved that hard work, dedication, and determination could lead to unimaginable accomplishments. Neither of Coach Robinson’s parents graduated from high school, but they encouraged their son’s desire to stay in school and earn a college degree. A young Robinson moved on from high school to become a star quarterback at Leland College under Reuben Turner, a Baptist preacher who introduced Robinson to the concepts of a playbook and coaching clinics. With no coaching opportunities available following college, Robinson took a job in a Baton Rouge feed mill before learning from a relative that there was an opening for a football coach at Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, later to become Grambling State University. After an interview with school president Dr. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Robinson was chosen as the sixth head football coach of the Tigers. It didn’t take Coach Rob, as he is affectionately known, long to prove his worth. Following his initial season, Coach Robinson took command and dismissed some players who he felt were not living up to expectations. The results came soon thereafter, as the next season Coach Robinson’s team posted a perfect 9-0 season with the team going undefeated, untied, and unscored upon. Grambling was only the second collegiate team to have shut out every opponent, a feat which has not been repeated since. By 1949, Grambling’s football program was receiving national acclaim after former Tigers running back Paul “Tank” Younger signed with the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League, thus becoming the first player from a historically black college to be taken in the NFL. In 1955, Grambling claimed the national Black College Championship by going 10-0 (the best record in school history) and outscoring opponents by a 356-61 margin. After picking up his 100th career coaching victory against Bethune-Cookman in 1957, Coach Robinson and his Tigers joined the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in 1959. The following season he led the Tigers to the first of 17 SWAC titles under his guidance. Another of Robinson’s former Tigers made NFL waves in 1963 as the late Junius “Buck” Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to have been chosen first overall in the NFL Draft. By 1984, Coach Robinson was poised to become college football’s winningest coach. After surpassing Amos Alonzo Stagg’s 314 coaching victories that year, he tied legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 323-win mark with a 23-6 win over Oregon State before becoming the career wins leader the next week with a 27-7 win over Prairie View A&M. Coach Robinson finally relinquished his reigns to the Tigers following the 1997 season, but his contribution to the game will be remembered forever. Also during the same year, he was officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Football Writers of America’s Coach of the Year award is named after Coach Robinson. Grambling also named its football stadium the Eddie Robinson Stadium. Robinson graduated from McKinley Senior High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1937. He went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree from Leland College in Baker, Louisiana, then went on to obtain his Masters Degree from the University of Iowa in 1954.]]]]> ]]>

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Mississippi Development Authority accepting applications for 2020 Aspire Mississippi program

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From the Mississippi Development Authority:

The Mississippi Development Authority’s Asset Development Division is accepting applications for the 2020 Aspire Mississippi program. The program is designed to help communities become better places to live, work and visit through economic, community and workforce development.

“Participants of MDA’s Aspire Mississippi program master the leadership = community development = economic development model, sharpening their leadership skills to effectively develop their communities, which attracts private capital investment creating new jobs in their communities,” MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr. said in a statement. “Past participants of Aspire Mississippi demonstrated their commitment to bettering their communities through a variety of proactive projects that will bolster their economic development efforts for years to come.”

Aspire Mississippi provides support to counties as they identify marketable assets, allowing participants to increase industrial and economic development in their counties. The program helps communities develop projects that achieve significant and sustainable community and economic development outcomes. Curriculum focus areas include data-driven decision making and project mapping, as well as community, economic and workforce development.

The location for each session will alternate among the Aspire Mississippi counties. In addition to support from MDA, participants receive guidance from partners at the state’s universities, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies.

Each Aspire Mississippi team is typically formed through the local economic development office and consists of approximately eight to 10 local stakeholders committed to enhancing their knowledge in key community and economic development areas. Teams from the following counties recently graduated from the 2019 Aspire Mississippi program: Covington, Lawrence, Leake, Panola, Sharkey and Walthall.

The 2020 Aspire Mississippi program begins in April and will conclude in late fall with each team’s project presentations and a graduation ceremony.

The deadline to apply for the 2020 program is Monday, Feb. 3. To apply, go to mississippi.org/aspire. For additional information, contact Ellen Bourdeaux with MDA’s Asset Development Division at 601-359-9333 or [email protected].

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Adopt-a-School training seeks to empower partnerships between churches and public schools

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Pastor Tony Evans, the Urban Alternative

Vicksburg will play host to a unique training designed to help churches partner with local schools to transform individuals, families and communities.

The training, a project of Pastor Tony Evan’s Urban Alternatives organization, is part of a nationwide Adopt-a-School Initiative, which provides attendees “the building blocks for starting or enhancing the delivery of social services to urban youth and their families,” the organization’s website states. “Participants will receive an overview of the process for adopting public schools and creating programs, including school-based mentoring, to meet the vast needs of public-school youth and their families.”

The training is hosted by the Warren County Youth Court and Unite Mississippi, the parent organization of numerous faith-based organizations that have “a desire to make communities whole in a grass-roots way,” said Larry Nicks, deputy director of Unite Mississippi.

Recognizing that churches and faith-based organizations are probably the most influential organizations inside many communities in Mississippi, the Adopt-a-School program seeks to develop partnerships between churches and public schools and offer mentoring to children and families.

“Our prison population is growing, and our school literacy problem is getting worse. If we can tap into the school population at the third-grade level, then we can make a difference in the quality of graduates and, of course, our workforce,” Nicks said.

Mentoring at-risk children at an early age, particularly at the third-grade level, is crucial, he said. If children can’t read by third grade “they’ll never catch up and be on level in college and in life.”

The goal is not to only mentor children but to make the family whole through mentoring, job skills and more. Churches with resources will be partnered with churches with few resources.

The problem of literacy must be addressed before it gets to the justice or penal system, said Judge Marcie Southerland with the Warren County Youth Court.

“We have got to reach these children and their families when the children are … in second and third grade, not when they’re 13, 14 and on up to 17 years of age,” she said, adding, “I know this will work.”

“The kids we’re trying to reach are the kids that, for whatever reason, haven’t had proper mentoring and proper upbringing at home,” said Chip Miskelly, chairman of Unite Mississippi. “These are kids who are falling through the cracks.”

“What we’re trying to do more than anything else, is give these kids a fighting chance,” he added.

“It’s a holistic approach to reach not only the kids, but the families as a whole.”

In this one-day training, attendees will learn how to analyze the needs of the community, engage with a local school, recruit and develop volunteers and how to raise the necessary funds to support the endeavor.

The training is Jan. 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the George Oaks Building at the Vicksburg-Warren County Hinds Community College Campus. Lunch will be served, sponsored by Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Claiborne and Warren Counties.

Cost of the training is $75 per person, and everyone is welcome. The training is designed for pastors, church and community leaders, and for people who are stakeholders in public schools including parents and teachers, or those who may be interested in becoming stakeholders.

“This is a top-notch training” with a successful track-record of more than 30 years, said Michelle Johnson, a Unite Mississippi board member and Vicksburg coordinator for the training.

For more information or to register, see the Adopt-A-School website or call Bill Collins with Urban Alternatives at 1-800-800-3222, Pastors’ coordinator Pastor James Bowman at 601-529-2044 or Vicksburg coordinator Michelle Johnson at 601-715-0522.

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Vicksburg Chess Club provides a way to exercise the brain for adults and children

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Vicksburg Chess Club

To many, chess is a complex board game that takes time and a great deal of focus to learn and play. It’s also a fun way to pass the time.

Chess is a great way to exercise the brain, too. Research has shown chess helps adults prevent or delay Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia and some mental illnesses. In children, it sparks an interest in math and science as it helps them improve critical thinking and abstract reasoning skills, and find solutions to complex problems.

Vicksburg schools understand the benefits of chess and have added the board game to their extracurricular activities with the help of the Vicksburg Chess Club.

“Right now the Chess Club is trying to promote chess in lots of areas,” said Dr. Donald Rathburn, a member of the Vicksburg Chess Club. “We have the grade-school programs. We run chess tournaments. We have a men’s championship and a women’s championship every year. We now have the Chess League that’s been going on for four years and that gives us a championship, and there are more possible tournaments.”

Each Tuesday and Thursday the club meets at the Vicksburg Mall, 3505 Pemberton Square Blvd., at 6 p.m. to play chess and improve their skills. Everyone is invited to join in to watch or play in the matches.

At the weekly club meetings, members and guests have an opportunity to learn different tactics and styles of the game.

“There is a variety of chess,” Rathburn said. “It isn’t just two people playing chess. That is, of course, the most common way to play chess, but it could be two people on two boards or it could be two people on one board. There’s even a thing called random chess.”

The Vicksburg Chess Club also holds monthly chess matches. The next meet is on Jan. 11, 2020, at 10 a.m. in the Vicksburg Mall and as always, the event is free and everyone is welcome. 

For more information or to join the Vicksburg Chess Club and enhance your mind simply join them at their weekly meetings.

“Just come out on Thursday nights to the Vicksburg Mall,” Rathburn said. “We’ll train you and show you how to play chess. I emphasize having a good time. If your ego is involved, I don’t think you should play chess. Accept the fact that when you lose, you’re learning.”

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