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 in Jackson, MS.