OKTIBBEHA COUNTY — Oktibbeha County will celebrate Juneteenth at Unity Park by honoring the park’s 2022 class.
The two honorees, the late Monica W. Banks and Clarence Taylor, will be celebrated for the mark they have left on race relations in the county. The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at the park located on Dr. Douglas L. Conner Drive.
“This is the fifth year that we’ve done this, where we asked people in Oktibbeha County to nominate somebody that they know that they think would be worthy of the honor,” Jeanne A. Marszalek with the Unity Park Committee said. “What we do is we put a plaque on the Unity Park wall with their names on it and the years that they lived. It represents the fact that they were involved in improving civil rights for people in Oktibbeha County but also bringing unity to our county.”
Banks, born in Oktibbeha County, became the first African American female to be a countywide elected official when she became the chancery clerk, a position she served in for more than 20 years.
She was known widely due to her involvement in a variety of local organizations and deeply respected for her outstanding leadership skills and work ethic, Marszalek said.
Taylor, also born in Oktibbeha County, served in World War II from 1941 to 1945. He spent much of his life serving others, and was a member of the American Legion Post 240, Griffin Methodist Church, Oktibbeha County Board of Trustees, Oktibbeha County NAACP and the chairman of its Legal Redress Committee.
He was one of the leaders of the 1970 Starkville Racial Protest Marches.
Honorees must have been deceased for at least five years. They are nominated by the community and selected by the Unity Park Committee.
“The family members are always very appreciative and excited. Everyone’s really excited about it” Marszalek said.