Le Fleur’s Bluff (MS) Chapter
Charter Date: March 5, 1988
Location: The Holiday Inn, Jackson, MS
Organizer: Dr. Beatrice Mosley
Charter Members: Dr. Beatrice Mosley, Dr. Mildred Allen, Dr. Sarah Beard, Bernice Bell, Ruby Black, Dr. Yvonne Brooks, Dr. Emma Brooks-Baham, Gwendolyn Chambliss, Alice V. Harden, Barbara Hilliard, Ellistine P. Holly, Eddie Mae Johnson, Geraldine Kelly, Johnnie Middleton, Dr. Jessie Mosley, Daisy Mullen, Dr. Lelia Gaston Rhodes, Esther M. Rigsby, Thelma Sanders, Kathryn Thames, Dr. Cleopatra Thompson, Ida Witherspoon, Melita Woodard
Installation Officers: National President Regina Jollivette Frazier and Jacqueline J. Robinson, Chapter Establishment Officer
Interest Group Service Project: Rowan and Blackburn Junior High Schools were selected as sites for educational, cultural and civil projects which would positively impact the Black family. Work at Rowan has continued for nearly 30 years.
In the mid-1980s, 23 women in the Jackson, Mississippi area formed an interest group aimed at providing much-needed service to local inner-city youth. In 1988, those women would become members of the LeFleur’s Bluff (MS) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated whose efforts from inception through today are focused on positively impacting the lives of students at Rowan Middle School. The ARMSGAD (At Risk Middle School Girls of African Descent) program focused on academic support, primarily one on one tutoring after school. Not all the work was in the classroom. In an effort to support the arts, the YAATS program showcased student with artistic talents and encouraged them through providing performance opportunities and recognition.
During the 1990s, service further expanded into the community. Monthly programs were held for students which featured each of the individual facets of Linkdom: Services to Youth, National Trends and Services, International Trends and Services and the Arts. These programs included, but we’re not limited to: career awareness, health and dental screenings, walkathons, art projects, reading fairs and academic support. Students at Rowan took field trips to see a holiday play each year.
We also reached overseas by partnering with other Mississippi chapters of the Links through the Education Across the Miles Signature Program and sponsoring a schoolhouse in South Africa. School supplies for African students as well as black dolls for young girls were also sent overseas as part of our global outreach.
These domestic and international efforts were honored by the Southern Area of The Links, Incorporated in 1999 when the Le Fleur’s Bluff Chapter won the First Place Award for its Umbrella or overall community service program. The Chapter also won First Place in 1999 for its exhibit presenting the program which included a display and video highlighting the efforts. In 2001, the Chapter won another Umbrella award, this time 2nd place, in recognition of its programs because they evidenced sustainability
and a significant community impact. Students were also honored by receiving certificates of award and savings bonds when their academic achievement placed them within the top ten students at their school.
Into the Millennium, programs have included health screenings for students as well as town hall meetings in the community to discuss heart health, HIV/AIDS and organ and tissue donation. An important aspect of student health has been the promotion of healthy living through diet and exercise. Nutritionists, meetings with cafeteria staff and the distribution of healthy snacks were cornerstones of that initiative. Exercise was promoted through fitness routines, walking, a tennis workshop and Zumba class. Members partnered with the Jackson Chapter of the Links to implement a childhood obesity prevention program at the Mid-Town Community Center which is near Rowan Middle School.
Still, academics remain our key effort. In an effort to improve literacy, students were given summer reading books at year end and assisted with reading comprehension and assignments in the fall of each of year. Students were also given the opportunity to participate in the Jackson State University International Fair. They divided into groups and chose countries for study. Representatives from JSU came to the school to share their personal experiences and give deeper insight to the assignment. At the Fair, students displayed what they learned about the country and its culture, even dressing in native costume. One group won the First Place prize. For those students with the most basic needs, uniforms are purchased along with book bags and supplies. Our effort to promote college education and assist those in school is proven by our growing endowed scholarship at Jackson State University on the name of our Chapter Organizer, Beatrice Mosley, and an annual United Negro College Fund contribution to help students at Tougaloo and Rust Colleges.
In 2011, the Chapter was honored again for its work through a 3rd place Area programming award and monetary stipend which was used to purchase more books for the students at Rowan Middle School. That reading program expanded in 2014 when more than $36,000 was raised in its signature “Raring to Read” program which provided summer reading books to all middle school students in the Jackson Public Schools system. Over the past 28 years, members have aimed to pool their time, talent and treasure to positively impact those in need both here and abroad, living out our tenets of friendship and service.
In addition to serving the Chapter, many members of LeFleur’s Bluff have served the Links, Incorporated in both Area and National capacities. Lelia Rhodes served as the National Archivist from 1995-2002. Emma Baham Smith served as Chair of the National External Relations Committee from 2002-2006. On the Area level, Yvonne Brooks was the elected to the Southern Area nominating committee from 1999-2003. For two of those years, she was Chair of the committee. Vivian Taylor served on the Area Communications Committee from 2006-2010. Sharon Reed was the Southern Area Parliamentarian from 2013-2015. Kimberly Sweet was appointed Area Chair of Archives and History in 2011 and currently serves in that position.
LeFleur’s Bluff (MS) Presidents and Tenures:
2017-Present Rica Lewis Payton
2012-2014 Dorothy Stokes
2010-2012 Sharon Reed
2006-2010 Eleanor Mitchell
2002-2006 Geraldine T. Kelly
1998-2002 Emma B. Baham
1994-1998 Yvonne Brooks
1991-1994 Lelia G. Rhodes
1988-1991 Beatrice B. Mosley (Organizer 1986-1988)