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Free and Open to the Public

SUNDAY, JAN 14, 2024

Tupelo Civic Auditorum

1009 Varsity Dr, Tupelo, MS 38801


Starts at
2:30 P
M - 3:45 PM

Reception to follow at

3:45 PM - 5:00 PM

Keynote Speaker

Oleta Fitzgerald


Children's Defense Fund

Committee for King’s annual Sunday Commemorative Service at the Tupelo Civic Auditorium will kick off at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 14, 2024 with area drill teams accompanied by the MLK Youth Choir, Betty Beene, Director. Mayor Todd Jordan will share the City of Tupelo’s work to address the needs of area children and youth, in connection with the weekend theme of “How Are The Children?”. Members of the Committee for King Youth Advisory Committee will participate in the program. Keynote speaker Oleta Fitzgerald, the Southern Regional Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, will offer her broad view of the issues facing Mississippi’s children today, and strategies to address those issues. At the end of the program, the community is invited to break bread together in the Tupelo Middle School cafeteria, next door to the Civic Auditorium. Representatives from CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates), Catch Kids, Early Childhood Coalition, Faith Haven, and the Tupelo Junior Auxiliary will offer information on their work at the “Shine A Light” tables in the cafeteria. Area businesses kindly donate delicious food and drinks for all to enjoy. The program and reception are free and open to the public.

For everyone's safety,  Tupelo Civic Auditorium has utilized a CLEAR BAG POLICY.
We hope everyone follows this policy and together we can make this event entertaining, joyous, uplifting, and safe.



Sunday, January 14, 2024

Tupelo Civic Auditorium

1009 Varsity Dr, Tupelo, MS 38801


  • Drill Teams/MLK Youth Choir                                                                                      Betty Beene/Choir Director                                                                                                                                                            Paul Lyles and                                                                                                                                                                                    Jerry Smith/Drill Captains        

  • Lift Every Voice/National Black Anthem                                                                  Dioone Jeybron Allen/THS

  • Welcome and Introductions                                                                                       Carmen Gary/                                                                                                                                                                                    Committee for King

  • National Anthem                                                                                                             Crissen McCoy/ICC

  • Mayor’s Address                                                                                                               Mayor Todd Jordan/                                                                                                                                                                       City of Tupelo

  • CFK Youth Advisory Committee                                                                                 Lindsay Brett and Tabitha                                                                                                                                                             McRunnels/Committee for King

  • Introduction of Keynote Speaker                                                                               Zell Long/Committee for King

  • Keynote Address                                                                                                             Oleta Fitzgerald/                                                                                                                                                                               Children’s Defense Fund

  • Ending Remarks                                                                                                               Shawn Brevard/                                                                                                                                                                                 Committee for King

  • MLK Youth Choir                                                                                                               Betty Beene/Choir Director




Upon dismissal, all are invited and encouraged to join the community in a wonderful meal and fellowship next door in the Tupelo Middle School Cafeteria. A variety of “Shine A Light” community groups will be on hand to share their special initiatives that focus on support of area children and youth.    


Tupelo Public School District has a clear bag policy at the Civic Auditorium.  


          Mayor Todd Jordan is a lifelong resident of Tupelo. He is a graduate of Tupelo High School and Mississippi State University, where he was a four-year football letter winner for the Bulldogs. He went on to play professional football for the San Antonio Texans of the Canadian Football League.
Mayor Jordan began his political career in January 2019 as a Lee County Supervisor for District 3. He was elected as Tupelo’s 29th mayor in June 2021.
He and his wife Christy have been married since 2003. She has served the Tupelo Public School District for more than 25 years as a teacher and administrator.
Mayor Jordan is looking forward to working for the citizens of Tupelo in raising the five-time All-America City to new heights.

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          Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald has devoted her life to the pursuit of justice and equality for all. As Director of the Children's Defense Fund's Southern Regional Office, Oleta has placed special emphasis on education, including early childhood education, children’s healthcare access, and breaking the insidious cradle to prison pipeline pattern, which is all too prevalent in communities of color. Oleta is the Regional Administrator for the Southern Rural Black Women's Initiative for Economic & Social Justice (SRBWI). SRBWI operates in 77 counties across the Black Belts of Alabama, Southwest Georgia and the Mississippi Delta. She is also the principal for an innovative project, the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) Initiative, which has operated in more than 12 Mississippi school districts. Oleta’s distinguished public service career began long before she assumed her position at Children’s Defense Fund. In 1993, Oleta became President Clinton’s appointee as White House Liaison and Executive Assistant to Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. Later, she was named the Department’s
Director of Intergovernmental Affairs where, among other things, she worked on tribal governmental issues and coordinated the Administration’s long-term recovery of Midwestern states affected by The Great Flood of 1993.


 Ms. Fitzgerald serves on the boards of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative; Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative For Economic and Social Justice, and NEA Foundation; advisory boards for the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn State University, Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, Excel by 5, Institute for Women's Policy Research, Rural Assembly, and is a member of the International Women’s Forum.


Ms. Fitzgerald received the Bachelor of Science degree from Tougaloo College, Master of Arts in Rural Development from Antioch University Midwest with additional studies at the University of California at Davis; and honorary membership to Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Affairs & Administration from Mississippi State University. She contributed to the Covenant with Black America introduced by Tavis Smiley, and numerous news stories by the New York Times, Huffington Post, the BBC, The Guardian, National Public Radio, Commercial Appeal and NBC National and local affiliates as well as other broadcast and print media.

Ms. Fitzgerald is the proud mother of four children, Rashida, Yusef, Layla and Joi.

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