McLemore honored for humanities work

A civil rights pioneer, university professor and champion of the arts and humanities, in addition to being a newly-elected Walls alderman, Dr. Leslie Burl McLemore has done it all.

McLemore is among the recipients of the 2018 Public Humanities Awards to be presented at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson on Feb. 16.

McLemore, former board chair of the Mississippi Humanities Council will receive the prestigious "Cora Norman Award."

The “Cora Norman Award” is named for the MHC’s founding director, who guided the Council for its first 24 years. The Cora Norman Award honors extraordinary individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions to the public humanities in Mississippi.

"I am delighted," McLemore said from his home in the Delta Bluff community. "The award is named in honor of Cora Norman, who I think did more to embrace and enhance the improvement of race relations in Mississippi more than any other person. She really brought about a sense of racial healing."

A newly-elected Walls alderman, McLemore has been involved in the public arena for more than half a century. As professor at Jackson State University, McLemore has analyzed and given perspective on Mississippi politics and the national political and social scene as well.

"The humanities is something close to me," McLemore said. "When I was at Jackson State, I was on the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy Board," McLemore said. "I had the opportunity to work with Cora. Her work was all about change for the better. Looking about how change can occur through the arts and humanities is something which she pursued. I have tried throughout my academic life to exemplify that. It's my lifelong work."

Twenty-nine recipients of the 2017 Humanities Teacher Awards, which pay tribute to outstanding faculty in traditional humanities fields, will also be honored at the event.

The Mississippi Humanities Council presents Humanities Achievement Awards each February, honoring outstanding contributions in the public humanities in our state. The Council began issuing Achievement Awards in 1993 to recognize persons who have supported the Council’s work through public humanities programs across the state. All Mississippians are invited to make nominations for these awards. Nominations are accepted for Humanities Scholar Award, Humanities Partner Award, Humanities Educator Award, and Humanities Award for Preservation of Mississippi Culture.

Every fall, the MHC honors a Humanities Teacher of the Year at each of our state’s institutions of higher learning. These winners are then publicly recognized at the February awards event.

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.

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