Millsaps College/Tougaloo College Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
United States Court of Appeals Judge and Millsaps College alumnus James Graves will be the featured speaker at the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, an annual event made possible by collaboration between Millsaps College and Tougaloo College. This year's event is scheduled on Jan. 21 beginning at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast in the Gertrude Ford Academic Complex at Millsaps College and then a program at 10 a.m. in the Gertrude Ford Academic Complex Recital Hall. The celebration is free and open to the public.
The theme of this year's celebration is "50 Years Forward: A Legacy of the Past and A Vision of the Future," honoring and acknowledging both Dr. King and the far-reaching sacrifices and growth of all people within the context of the movement. 2013 marks the 50th year anniversary of the civil rights movement and will mark the second-term inauguration of the United States' first African-American President, Barack Obama.
One of the most prominent and groundbreaking legal minds of our state, James E. Graves, Jr. was nominated by President Obama to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on June 10, 2010. Upon nominating Judge Graves, President Obama said, "Throughout his career James E. Graves has shown unwavering integrity and an outstanding commitment to public service. I am proud to nominate him to serve on the United States Court of Appeals."
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination and President Obama appointed him on February 15, 2011. Graves is the first black judge from Mississippi to serve on the Fifth Circuit.
Graves graduated from Millsaps College with a B.A. in sociology and went on to earn his law degree as well as a master's degree in public administration at SyracuseUniversity. He returned to Mississippi and served as a circuit court judge for ten years before being appointed to the Supreme Court by then-Governor Ronnie Musgrove. He won election to the same position in 2004.
Graves began his legal career as a staff attorney at Central Mississippi Legal Services. As a special assistant attorney general, he served as legal counsel for the Health Law Division and as head of the Human Services Division of the Mississippi Attorney General's Office. He also served as director of the Division of Child Support Enforcement in the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
A champion of education, Graves has taught trial advocacy at Harvard Law School and media law and civil rights law at Jackson State University and Tougaloo College. In the spring semester of 2005, he taught the class Law and Society to Millsaps undergraduates.
Graves has been honored with awards from numerous associations including the Hinds County Bar Association, the Mississippi Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Mississippi Association of Educators, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award.
Graves gave the commencement address at Millsaps College in 2002 and received an honorary doctor of laws from Millsaps College that same year. Graves' wife, Dr. Bettye Ramsey Graves (B.A., 1974) is a Millsaps graduate, as is his son James Earl Graves III (B.S., 2003); the Graves have two other sons.