The body of former governor Bill Allain will lie in repose in the Capitol rotunda this Friday where a memorial service will also be held, but as MPB's Paul Boger reports Mississippians are already talking about the legacy of the state's 58th governor.
Before Bill Allain became Governor of Mississippi, he served as Attorney General and before that as Assistant Attorney General. During those times Allain tried many cases on behalf of the state including some dealing with segregation. Former Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson recalls meeting Allain, and learning his true feelings on the subject.
"Well, his early career as Assistant Attorney General he was in opposition to school desegregation, but he was not an adamant person opposed to integration; it was just his job." said Anderson. "He shared that with me, and we spent a lot of time together back in the 60's, and he was an up-standing man. In his term as Attorney General and as Governor, he respected and enhanced all of the state's people."
Then in 1984, when Allain became Governor, he appointed Anderson as the first African-American justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court. Anderson admits it was a controversial move even at that time.
"Well that was a bold move on his part." said Anderson. "It was a courageous move on his part, and I think it paid off for him and for me."
Allain also worked to get women involved in state government. Beverly Wade Hogan is now the President of Tougaloo College in Jackson, but during the 80's she worked with Governor Allain in the Office of Federal State Programs. She says the Governor wanted to make the government a fair place.
"Governor Allain was really committed to fairness and equality." said Hogan. "He was not a very vocal man on those issues, but took action on it in the way he conducted the business of government.
The funeral is set for noon Saturday at St. Mary'sBasilica in Natchez, where Allain grew up. Burial will be in Natchez City Cemetery.