[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 17 (Wednesday, February 16, 2005)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E254]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                        HON. BENNIE G. THOMPSON

                             of mississippi

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, February 16, 2005

  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, throughout the month of 
February, I would like to recognize outstanding African Americans of 
the 2nd Congressional District of Mississippi, and their contribution 
to Black History. The 23 counties of the 2nd District are well 
represented from both a local and national perspective.
  Americans have recognized black history annually since 1926, first as 
``Negro History Week'' and later as ``Black History Month.'' In fact, 
black history had barely begun to be studied--or even documented--when 
the tradition originated. Although blacks have been in America as far 
back as colonial times, it was not until the 20th century that they 
gained a presence in our history books.
  Though scarcely documented in history books, if at all, the crucial 
role African Americans have played in the development of our nation 
must not be overlooked.
  I would like to recognize Andrew Hawkins, Sr. (1918-2000) and Mary 
Lou Hawkins (1907 -1972) of Shaw, MS which is located in Bolivar 
County. Andrew and Mary Lou ``Mae Lou'' were married in 1937 until her 
murder in 1972. Being children of slaves and having grown up in the 
Mississippi Delta during the Jim Crowe era and when the Mississippi 
Sovereignty Commission was active, they set out on an expedition 
against segregation and discrimination to improve life for black folks. 
Their stubborn will would not allow them to accept the unfair treatment 
imposed by white folks. In fact their willingness to lead and step out 
front brought death; alienation, planned house fires, and increased 
harassment upon the family but that did not stop the Hawkins.
  In 1969 Andrew along with Mae Lou and twenty other African American 
plaintiffs sued the Town of Shaw for violating their rights as spelled 
out in the 14th Amendment. They had lawyers representing them from the 
NAACP Legal Defense Fund. These were their rights to parallel living 
conditions in black neighborhoods as experienced by whites in their 
neighborhoods. Photographed and statistical evidence of both black and 
white neighborhoods pointed to the disparities between the two of 
inadequate water supply, unsanitary sewage exposure and disposal, water 
line pipes, rock roads, natural gas supply, street lights, and more. 
Hawkins first loss came when he appeared in District Court before Judge 
Keady. Then on January 23, 1971, the United States Fifth Circuit Court 
of Appeals overturned Judge Keady's decision making the case a 
precursor for lawsuits against the inequalities of services provided by 
municipalities. Careful examination of the evidence presented by the 
NAACP Legal Defense Fund Lawyers overrode all evidence presented by the 
Town of Shaw helping to establish a prima facie case of racial 
discrimination. The court prohibited the Town of Shaw from further 
spending of monies to improve conditions in white neighborhoods until 
they improve conditions in the black neighborhoods thus creating a 
better living environment for the entire Town. The Hawkins v. Town of 
Shaw case is often equated with such paramount cases as Brown v. Board 
of Education for being one of the great pillars in African American 

  In May 1972 two months after the 5th Circuit en banc affirmed the 
decision of Hawkins v. Town of Shaw, Mary Lou Hawkins was shot and 
killed by a black ``white controlled'' police officer for the Town of 
Shaw. In the first fire set to their home, no one was injured but in 
the second fire, their son Andrew, Jr. and two granddaughters were 
killed. Mr. Andrew Hawkins and his family has certainly been in a storm 
and faced tragedies as a consequence.
  I take great pride in recognizing and paying tribute to these 
outstanding African Americans of the 2nd Congressional District of 
Mississippi who deserve mention, not only in the month of February but 
year round.