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JSU partners with Mississippi Humanities Council to honor the life and legacy of James “Jim” Hill

(William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

Jackson State University and the Mississippi Humanities Council collaborated on a community-building project to honor the life and legacy of Black politician and government official James “Jim” Hill. (William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

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Jackson State University and the Mississippi Humanities Council collaborated on a community-building project to honor the life and legacy of Black politician and government official James “Jim” Hill.

During an assembly on Thursday, Oct. 29, Jim Hill High School students acknowledged Hill’s widespread contributions to the establishment and development of the surrounding Jackson community. Hill, born into slavery, was the last 19th-century African American elected to statewide office in Mississippi.

Working closely with JSU’s Office of Engagement, the Mississippi Humanities Council provided a generous, creative art grant to help Jim Hill students present a poetry and art showcase.  ((William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

Working closely with JSU’s Office of Engagement, the Mississippi Humanities Council provided a generous, creative art grant to help Jim Hill students present a poetry and art showcase. ((William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

Working closely with JSU’s Office of Engagement, the Mississippi Humanities Council provided a generous, creative art grant to help Jim Hill students present a poetry and art showcase.

The showcase intended to engage and educate the student body about their school’s namesake while also providing an outlet to express their newfound understanding of Hill’s legacy through powerful imagery and poems.

“Jim Hill was an amazing man, and it is such a joy to see so many young individuals show interest in our history, but we cannot talk about Jim Hill without speaking about his mother, Rachel,” said Heather Denne’, Ph.D., director of Community Engagement at JSU.

 “We must never forget his mother and her tenacity, strength, and dedication to carving out a better pathway in life for her child to experience — she instilled a sense of resiliency in Jim Hill that lives in all these students today.”

Born under a merciless system of servitude, Rachel faced motherhood at the early age of 14. Unbeknownst to her, the child she carried would one day become a trailblazing leader, and educator touted for his depth of knowledge and boundless strength despite adversity.

Jim Hill School was founded in 1912 on Lynch Street as an elementary school to educate the youth of West Jackson. In 1966, Jim Hill High School was erected on Fortune Street in Jackson.

During last week’s tribute, a host of public officials were in attendance, including Mississippi State Representative Zakiya Summers, a

During last week’s tribute, a host of public officials were in attendance, including Mississippi State Representative Zakiya Summers, a Jim Hill High School graduate. (William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

During last week’s tribute, a host of public officials were in attendance, including Mississippi State Representative Zakiya Summers, a Jim Hill High School graduate. (William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

Jim Hill. High School graduate. She expressed her pride for being able to return home and honor the legacy that created seismic shifts through generations of students that still can be felt and experienced today.

“We know that we have inspired a cadre of students to increase their curiosity of Jim Hill because they have created amazing poems and visual arts pieces that embody his trail-making spirit,” said Summers. “We hope that by showcasing these students and perhaps introducing to some and presenting to others just how incredible Hill’s story is, we can continue to encourage the excellence that Jim Hill is known for.”

Media Contact: Kyle Kidd-Buckner, kyle.d.kidd-buckner@jsums.edu