Dress to the nines and get ready to dine; the Greenwood Voters League’s annual banquet is this Friday.

The dinner begins at 7 p.m. at the Leflore County Civic Center and will feature U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson and Ronnie Agnew, executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, as the guest speakers.

“Both men have served us well in this state. We’re honoring the two of them,” said state Sen. David Jordan, the league’s longtime president.

Thompson and Agnew go way back with the Voters League.  For Agnew, coming back to Greenwood for the banquet holds particular significance since he worked for the Commonwealth as a reporter from 1984 to 1985.

Ronnie Agnew

Agnew

“John Emmerich (then the newspaper’s editor and publisher) gave me a chance right out of Ole Miss, and I vowed that I would spend my career making him proud. One of the first assignments I received as a reporter at the Commonwealth was to cover the Greenwood Voters League,” Agnew recalled.

Jordan remembers Agnew and his coverage of the league.

“He’s a great reporter,” Jordan said of Agnew. “He was fair in his writing.”

At the time, the Voters League turnout hovered around 200 people since Greenwood’s 1985 change to a mayor-council form of government opened the way for African Americans to be elected to public office in the city, Jordan said.

Following his time in Greenwood, Agnew went on to work for a series of other newspapers, eventually becoming the executive editor at the Clarion Ledger in Jackson.

Agnew attributes his success at the Clarion Ledger to his time spent covering Mississippi politicians and candidates speaking at the Voters League. “It was there that I met people who were in leadership in Mississippi and people who would go on to hold major offices,” he said.

“I will always attribute my long media career to the coaching, patience and motivation that I received while working with Mr. Emmerich and his staff. He was one of my biggest cheerleaders,” Agnew said.

Jordan said Thompson will give a “state of the nation” update, including a legislative report.

Bennie Thompson

Thompson

The banquet will feature musical entertainment by twin brothers Dr. Kenneth and Kelvin Pulley as well as the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Choir.

The dress code will be formal — “Brooks Brothers suits and fashion dresses,” Jordan said.

Tickets are $15, and Jordan said 300 had already been sold. To purchase a ticket,  contact Jordan at 453-5361.

“I’m expecting a major crowd,” he said.

Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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