Lawmakers ponder naming buildings for Bristow, Kirksey, Khayat

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2007

One was a distinguished university president whose heart gave out while he was jogging.

Another was a pioneer in redrawing political districts to increase black representation.

And the third is still leading his alma mater.

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A bill that cleared the Mississippi House this week would name Alcorn State University’s new dining hall after Clinton Bristow Jr., the ASU president who died in August. It also would name the Mississippi Department of Employment Security headquarters after former state Sen. Henry Kirksey, D-Jackson.

A separate bill would name a new University of Mississippi law school building after Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat.

Bristow, 57, collapsed and died of heart failure this past August while jogging at the university track in Lorman.

Kirksey, a Tupelo native and military veteran, was an outspoken civil rights activist and one of the first black people elected to the Mississippi Senate after Reconstruction. He died in December 2005.

Rep. Erik Fleming, D-Clinton, who proposed the honor for Kirksey, said the employment security building off Interstate 220 in north Jackson is in the district Kirksey represented.

“Sen. Kirksey was one of the main people who fought to make this House and this Senate more diverse,” Fleming said.

Khayat, a Moss Point native, earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Ole Miss, graduating third in his law school class in 1966. He later served on the law school faculty.

Officials are trying to raise public and private money for a new building to replace the law center that opened on the Oxford campus in 1978.

In the past few years, lawmakers have named a state office building in downtown Jackson after former House Speaker Pro Tempore Robert Clark, D-Ebenezer, who’s still living, and an equine center on the state fairgrounds after former Gov. Kirk Fordice, who died in September 2006. Fordice was an avid cutting-horse rider.

The bills are House Bills 572 and 811.