News Releases

Foundation for Mississippi History Board Changes Leadership

April 13, 2023

Justice Fred Banks announced that he is stepping down as chair of the board of directors of the Foundation for Mississippi History (FMH), a post he has held since 2020. The board elected P. Ryan Beckett as chair and Jonathan Lee as vice-chair at its March meeting. 

Banks is a senior partner in the general litigation group in the Jackson office of Phelps Dunbar. He served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1976 until 1985, when he was appointed as a circuit court judge and later as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He has also served on the National Board of Directors of the NAACP for more than four decades. 

Banks graduated from Lanier High School in Jackson in 1960. He earned a BBA from Howard University followed by a JD in 1968 from the Howard University School of Law, where he graduated second in his class. Banks began his law practice during the Civil Rights Movement when there were few African American attorneys in the state. 

Banks was a leader in securing funding and public support for the Two Mississippi Museums, which opened in 2017. He served as a valued advisor on the exhibits, particularly those related to the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement.  

Beckett said, “We are grateful to Justice Banks for his leadership of the board. His wise stewardship and commitment to our state helped create and strengthen the Two Mississippi Museums.” 

Ryan Beckett is a partner in the commercial litigation group in the Ridgeland office of Butler Snow. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Millsaps College and previously served as the legal director of the Homeless Legal Clinic through the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. Beckett is a past chairman of the Mississippi Tort Claims Board, the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s Encore Board, and the Advisory Board of Metropolitan Bank.   

Jonathan Lee is a senior vice president and senior principal of member performance at Vizient, Incorporated. His current civic engagements include the Fondren Renaissance Foundation, the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Mississippi Symphony Foundation, and the One Percent Commission that oversees the expenditure of funds generated by a local option sales tax for infrastructure improvements for the city of Jackson.   

The FMH supports and promotes the activities, programs, and projects of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). The FMH board meets at least twice a year to review financial reports and to consult with staff on strategic plans for the department. It advises MDAH on the direction of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.  

Other FMH board members are Reuben Anderson, Donna Barksdale, Phil Bryant, Kane Ditto, Mike Espy, Haley Fisackerly, Jack Garner, Beverly Hogan, Ebony Lumumba, Leslie Burl McLemore, Nora Frances McRae, and Chip Pickering. 



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