News Releases

Foundation for Mississippi History Elects New Board Chairman, Vice-Chairman

July 20, 2020

At its June 23 meeting, Fred Banks was elected chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Mississippi History, which supports and promotes the activities, programs, and projects of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). P. Ryan Beckett was named vice-chairman.

Fred 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. Banks served as a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court for eleven years. Banks has served on the National Board of Directors of the NAACP for the past thirty-nine years.

P. Ryan Beckett is a partner in the commercial litigation group in the Ridgeland office of Butler Snow.  He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Millsaps College.  He 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.

Phil Bryant, the sixty-fourth governor of Mississippi, has been elected to the Foundation board. Bryant was a strong supporter of the Two Mississippi Museums project and was governor when the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum opened in 2017.

The Foundation board meets at least twice a year to review financial reports and to consult with staff on strategic plans for the department’s museums, sites, and programs. A particular function of the Foundation is advising MDAH on the direction of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The Foundation raised $20 million for the construction of the Two Mississippi Museums.

In an effort to expand the number of voices advising MDAH on all aspects of its programming, the Foundation for the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum has merged with the Foundation for Mississippi History.

Other Foundation board members include Reuben Anderson, Donna Barksdale, Kane Ditto, Haley Fisackerly, Mike Espy, Jack Garner, Beverly Hogan, H.T. Holmes, John Horhn, Jonathan Lee, Ebony Lumumba, Leslie-Burl McLemore, Nora Frances McRae, John Palmer, John Peoples, Chip Pickering, Leroy Walker, and William Winter.

Katie Blount serves as president of the Foundation and Robert Benson is secretary-treasurer. For more information email



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