Marvin Hogan leaves a legacy of systemic progress

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Marvin Hogan was a football coach at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, Mississippi, when his father called him with an urgent message: he had to come to Jackson. His father had traveled two and a half hours from his hometown Waynesboro to the capital to lobby for public early childhood education, and he insisted his son join him.

“He told her that if he didn’t come, he would never speak to her again,” Hogan’s wife Beverly Wade Hogan recalls last week, laughing. Marvin heeded his father’s warning and joined the fight that would eventually be born Mississippi Children’s Friends, the state’s Head Start program, in 1966. Hogan’s battle for a more equitable education for all Missisippians will continue for the next 53 years, ending only with his death on November 6, 2021, at the age 83.

Marvin Hogan and his wife, Beverly Wade Hogan, met when she took a summer job at a Head Start center. The couple had been married for 50 years. Courtesy of Beverly Wade Hogan

Beverly Wade Hogan, retired president of Tougaloo College, told the Mississippi Free Press that her husband’s passion for public education began long before his father called her in Jackson. A young Hogan had seen his mother, Nina Hogan, make the long trip from Waynesboro near the Alabama border to Tougaloo College to continue her education during the summers after spending the school years teaching in the public school black separated from Wayne County.

The two sides of the office in Mississippi separated

“I think it had a lot of influence in her life in terms of education,” Dr Hogan said of her husband. Despite her pride in her mother’s determination to complete her college education, Beverly Hogan admits that her husband “suffered the injustices of the time.” He attended the then separated Riverview High School in west Waynesboro, a town that was still deeply racially divided when Hogan grew up there in the 1940s and 1950s.

Hogan built a reputation as an exceptional footballer and was recruited to play football at Tougaloo College, the same school his mother attended throughout her childhood, but his continuity of the Bulldog family legacy has been from short duration. “Football was cut short, and because he won a scholarship, the tuition was out of his reach,” Beverly Hogan said. “He transferred to Coahoma and then to Rust College.”

Marvin Hogan was instrumental in securing funding for Head Start centers like this statewide. Courtesy of Beverly Wade Hogan

In every school, Hogan continued his love for the sport that paved his way to college. When he graduated, he accepted a job as head coach at Rosa Scott High School, which at the time was the all-black school in still isolated Madison County.

Although he had by then been on both sides of the pulpit in segregated Mississippi schools, Marvin Hogan admitted that things were changing for Missisippians. Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” was aimed at making early childhood education a possibility across the country, which Beverly Hogan said met with a lot of resistance in the Mississippi legislature.

“It was in the 1960s, so African Americans still served as farm laborers,” Hogan commented. “(The institution of good starts) would empower people out of poverty, as it would require teachers, cooks and bus drivers. In the minds of some lawmakers, some of them were taken off the farm. It was a change they weren’t quite ready for.

‘Being taken off the farm’

Marvin Hogan’s father and fellow Waynesboro native Leo Turner were more than ready to witness such a change. When they came to Farish Street in Jackson to lobby the Legislature to fund a public pre-kindergarten program that she had previously refused each time, they did not take the “no.” As an answer, even running the Children’s Friends of Mississippi for nearly 100 days without any federal or state funding.

“They weren’t thinking about the future,” Beverly Hogan said of the state’s early refusals to fund the early childhood education program. “It wasn’t a threat to anyone. When we can all move forward, we will all benefit. “

Marvin Hogan cuts the ribbon at the King Star Head Start in Laurel, Mississippi, just 30 minutes from where he grew up in Waynesboro. Courtesy of Beverly Wade Hogan

Her husband’s hometown was among the first to reap the early benefits of early childhood education centers, as Wayne County and neighboring counties of Greene and Clarke opened Head Starts shortly after the training. by Friends of Children of Mississippi.

In a 2019 interview, Marvin Hogan paid tribute to these local roots and how he has been able to improve the lives of others in his hometown. “I have never considered myself a civil rights individual,” he said. “I’m just a boy from the Mississippi countryside who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and families. It’s all I’ve ever done.

Dr Hogan echoed her husband’s dedication to Waynesboro and other similar small towns across the state. “He was thrilled to be able to serve this county and all the places that were so familiar to him growing up,” she said. “He felt he had lived up to his father’s desires and expectations. He has had many successes in Wayne County.

“The safest way out of poverty”

Many of these success stories in Wayne County and beyond were outgrowths of the Friends of Children of Mississippi program, as Marvin Hogan started the Microenterprise Empowerment and Development Project, which empowered teachers and other Head Start employees to continue their education and provided microloans to small businesses in the often poor rural communities that housed Head Start centers.

“It was something he was proud of, that they could break this cycle of generational poverty,” Hogan said. “It was a turnaround for the families there. He wasn’t looking for families to become Fortune 500 companies, but the surest way out of poverty is through employment.

Marvin Hogan and then State Representative Alyce Clarke (left) joined Donna Shalala (left of Hogan) for a photo. Shalala was US Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1993 to 2001. The fourth woman is not identified. Courtesy of Beverly Wade Hogan

Beverly Hogan said her husband’s constant encouragement for others to pursue their goals was a resounding theme in her career. “He used his ladder to help other people climb,” she recalls. “He did it for so many young people. “

After all, she saw her husband’s commitment to helping other people achieve their dreams up close, as she worried about finishing school when he asked her to marry him 50 years ago. years. “That won’t stop you from completing your university education,” he told her, and it doesn’t.

The couple married in 1971 and Beverly Wade Hogan graduated from Tougaloo two years later, the same place where her husband’s love for education began.


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