Simpson

PEOPLE

Teresa Bowen

Teresa Bowen is currently a vice-president of People's Bank ("People's") in Mendenhall, Miss. Bowen was the first African-American to be hired by People's. She said that at the time she was hired, she was working at a manufacturing plant and looking for a better job. A man named Willie Magee from the church she attended then told Bowen that People's was hiring. Bowen said that she went to People's, and Sid Davis, the president of People's during that time, hired her on the spot. Bowen was hired to work at People's in April of 1977.

At the time she was hired, Bowen said that she was taking classes at Draughons Business School in Jackson, Miss. After People's hired her, management gave her an opportunity to go back to school, so Bowen began attending Co-Lin and Hinds community colleges. In addition to taking classes at these institutions, Bowen took classes at both Trustmark bank and People's. The classes at People's were taught in the bank by Davis.

Bowen started at People's working in the mail room. She was subsequently promoted to the proof machine, bookkeeping, the teller line, and then the loan operation office. In the loan department, Bowen said that she began typing loans for officers in the bank, then began making loans on her own, and now she is one of the vice-presidents of the bank in the loan office. Throughout the thirty years of working at People's, Bowen has continued to advance both in education and her career. She received her bachelor's degree in business administration from Belhaven College in 1998, graduating cum laude.

Bowen said that she experienced people not wanting her to wait on them, and it was hard at times when she first started working at People's. However, Bowen said that Davis and the current president of People's were very supportive of her. "I give all praise to the Lord because I can see his hand in my advancement [at People's], and I thank [my co-workers] for giving me the opportunity to work here,"Bowen said.

Sources:

Interview with Teresa Bowen

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EVENTS

United States v. Mississippi (1986)

(1986) In 1983, Cynthia Fletcher filed a lawsuit against the state of Mississippi and the Simpson County School Board. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a black football coach, a black band director, and a black teacher who each claimed the school board and school district officials were being discriminatory in their hiring and firing practices. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (Judge Tom S. Lee, Jr.), found that discrimination did not take place in any of the circumstances. First, the football coach’s claim was that the district had agreed to give him “the first available position as Athletic Director and Head Coach”of his school. In this matter, the court found that the coach was not entitled to the head coaching position of the football team immediately. The school district was not engaging in racial discrimination because the coach held a different head coaching position at the time of the suit. The band director claimed the district was being discriminatory when his contract was not renewed. In this matter, the court found that the district was using an objective measure of performance when it fired the band director. Moreover, four other school employees were fired at the same time, two white and two black. Lastly, the teacher claimed he was owed back pay for being fired. His complaint was that a similar position to his opened at a nearby junior high school, but he was fired rather than being transferred to this new position. The court found that the district was simply being efficient when it filled the position with another worker, and the firing of the teacher was simply due to a need to cut costs, not racism. The case was appealed, but the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that no errors were made in the original judgment.

Sources:

United States v. Mississippi (1986). 641 F.Supp 232.

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DOCUMENTS

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