2019 Unity Park additions named


Jeanne Marszalek

Jeanne Marszalek


Orlando Trainer

Orlando Trainer



Alex Holloway



The Unity Park Committee has unveiled the names of the two newest local additions who will be honored at the park next year.  


Jeanne Marszalek, chair of the Unity Park Committee, told Oktibbeha County supervisors at Monday's board meeting that the committee will recognize Wilson Ashford Sr. and Adelaide Jeanette Elliott. The committee began seeking nominations for new additions to the park in September. 


Both names will be added to the park on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. Last year, the committee recognized Rosa Stewart and Sadye Weyr. 


Ashford, Marszalek said, lived from 1923-2012. He served in the U.S. Army in the 1940s and upon returning home, began helping African Americans register to vote. 


"He took part in marches, sit-ins and boycotts, protesting the inequality experienced by African Americans," Marszalek said. "He worked for the peaceful integration of the public schools and was instrumental in the organization of the Oktibbeha County NAACP, and was active in Habitat for Humanity." 


Ashford also served on the Starkville School District board. In 1993, he received the Veitch Community Service award from the Chamber of Commerce. 


Elliott lived from 1921-2010. Marszalek said she was a teacher for 40 years and was recognized at the NAACP's 34th Freedom Awards banquet for her work in organizing the Oktibbeha County chapter and her lifetime of service and work as a youth director and secretary with the organization. 


"She represented Oktibbeha County in Martin Luther King's March on Washington in 1963," Marszalek said. "She spent her career as a teacher encouraging her students to learn and become successful citizens and their parents to take an interest in their children's education." 


Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer said he knew both of the nominees and called them "outstanding" selections for the park. 


"Mr. Ashford was a longtime business person here," he said. "He was an honorable man and well-respected in the community. He and his wife were both outstanding people.  


"Ms. Elliot was one of the most dedicated persons you can think of in the education field," Trainer added. "She was always a person who was very concerned about the welfare of young people. She was a person who worked behind the scenes to bring about positive change in the community." 


Unity Park, located behind the former Mugshots building on D.L. Connor Drive, is dedicated toward recognizing individuals and events that advanced civil rights locally and nationally. In addition to the 2018 honorees, the park features plaques honoring Dr. Douglas L. Connor, Martin Luther King Jr., former state Gov. William Winter, Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers and the Mississippi State University Men's Basketball "Game of Change" against the University of Loyola-Chicago.




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