top of page


Seeking love, compassion, respect and racial harmony for all people.




      Our pledge to the community is to live by Dr. King’s principles.  We strive to celebrate and uplift our community by celebrating and recognizing those that have and continue to pave the way. Dr. King’s message of hope and determination is just as vital now as it was during his lifetime.  As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., let us recommit ourselves to maintain fidelity to his principle that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.  Let’s also commit to develop compassionate and courageous young leaders that will carry out Dr. King’s dream.


PAST: Committee for King began as a City of Tupelo initiative in 1986 to recognize and celebrate the federally mandated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Alderman Boyce Grayson initiated the concept with then Mayor Jack Marshall. City Personnel Director Charles Penson was tasked with coordinating the event, and local businesses and individuals were solicited to support the inaugural program at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium and the reception afterwards in the foyer. City employees volunteered to make the program and reception a success. By November of 1986, local citizens, led by attorney Kenneth Mayfield, businesswoman Lola McKinney, and Alderman Boyce Grayson, came together to officially organize the Committee for King. Over the next ten years, the group led the way to re-name part of Highway 45 bypass as “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.”, rename Green Street School “King Elementary School”, and continued to sponsor annual MLK weekend programs with diverse, dynamic speakers. From 1995-2000, the Lee County Chapter of the NAACP led by Viola Foster assumed responsibility for the work of Committee for King. In 2000, Tupelo citizens again moved forward the organization’s vision of advocating for “love, compassion, respect, and racial harmony for all people”.

PRESENT: After a period of discernment in 2018-2019, Committee for King Board members hired marketing firm LikeMind to assist in the task of re-envisioning and re-branding Committee for King. The Board seeks to increase diversity of age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. on the Committee for King and in the program participants and attendees. The Board looks to expand its work beyond the annual MLK weekend. Members of the Board believe that in order to extend Dr. King’s legacy of social justice, anti-poverty initiatives, and use of nonviolence, we must look for additional ways to meet the needs of the community. The current aging Board needs help with technology and social media communication. A NextGen subcommittee of diverse citizens in their twenties, thirties, and forties are planning new initiatives such as “Shine a Light” and “A Seat at the Table” to add depth to our current programs, and to assist with technology gaps. The Board actively seeks participation from those in the community who value Dr. King’s principles to keep his legacy relevant in our shared community now and into the FUTURE.


Betty Beene

Lindsay Brett

Shawn Brevard

Carmen Gary

Marcus Gary

Leticia Gassaway

Rev. Jeffrey Gladney

Janette Kirk

Monica Lindsey

Rodney Long

Zell Long

Lola McKinney

Hannah Maharrey

Tabitha McRunnels

Cassandra Moore

Charles Moore

George Parks

Charles Penson

Maurice Shumpert

Martha Swinney

Willie Willis


Carmen Gary: Chair

Tabitha McRunnels: Vice-Chair

Willie Willis: Treasurer

Martha Swinney: Secretary

Cliff Campbell: Executive Director

bottom of page