Before Kirksey Middle School's doors opened for students, the Jackson Public Schools District and the community celebrated the completion of the new building during a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on September 10, 2010. The event took place at the school's north Jackson location at 5677 Highland Drive. The new middle school is within walking distance of Callaway High School and across the street from North Jackson Elementary School. Approximately 400 students from Powell and Chastain middle schools began attending Kirksey Middle School on September 14.
The celebration opened with an original anthem for the Kirksey Middle School written by Callaway choral music teacher Marquise Ezell and performed by an all-male ensemble from Callaway. The program featured an address from Henry Kirksey's daughter Karin Kirksey Zander who represented the Kirksey family including her brothers Henry Jr. and Kevin (deceased). Kirksey Middle Principal Dr. Edward Buck greeted the guests who came to honor the late senator and Mississippi historian for whom the school was named. Special guests included Congressman Bennie Thompson, Mississippi senators Hillman Frazier and John Horhn and Tougaloo College President Dr. Beverly Hogan. Reverend Dr. Richard Middleton, pastor of Kirksey's home church St. Mark's Episcopal, also spoke during the program. Kirksey was memorialized in a presentation narrated by School Board member Dr. Ivory Phillips who shared the Civil Rights work and other accomplishments of the activist who blazed a trail in Mississippi politics and government.
The Henry J. Kirksey Middle School is 84,000 square feet with 14 classrooms, an art room, choral room, and band room. It includes a gymnatorium, cafeteria, a speech/hearing room, health room, and library/media center. The new building also includes boys' and girls' athletic facilities.
- Design Professionals – M3A Architects, PLLC
- Construction Company – Chris Albritton Construction Company, Inc.
- Furniture Supplier – Innovative Office Solutions
- Program Managers – Jacobs/Preferred Management Group
- Construction Cost – $15,600,000
About Henry J. Kirksey
Henry J. Kirksey was an outspoken Civil Rights activist and one of the first two African American men elected to the Mississippi Senate after the Reconstruction era in Mississippi’s history.
The election of more than 600 African Americans to public office in the state can be credited in part to Senator Kirksey’s service as a plaintiff, expert witness and community organizer. He was the primary plaintiff to bring Mississippi in compliance with the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Lawsuits that he filed also led to the City of Jackson changing its form of government and the adoption of single-member legislative districts in Mississippi.
In his latter years, he continued his advocacy for Civil Rights and was an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College, where he lived on campus. He died at the age of 90. He and his wife, Audrie Mann Kirksey, were the parents of three children – Henry, Jr., Karin and Kevin. He was a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Related Link: Henry J. Kirksey Biography (PDF)