Friday’s ‘O’ Foundation gala to honor Henderson

Published 6:00 am Thursday, December 7, 2006

More than 350 people are expected to gather at the LincolnCounty-Brookhaven Multi-Use Building Friday night to honorBrookhaven Police Chief Arlustra “Pap” Henderson Jr. at the OleBrook VIP Banquet and Gala.

The 7 p.m. formal event is a first for the newly-created “O”Foundation, established last year to promote community unity.

“That’s what this event has done – brought the whole communitytogether,” said Rose “Polly” Powell, “O” Foundation founder.

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Dr. Robert Walker, chief administrative officer for the city ofJackson, will be the guest speaker. Jackson Mayor Frank Melton wasscheduled to be the guest speaker, but will be unable to attendbecause of a personal obligation, Powell said.

Powell said Henderson was one of the first people the “O”Foundation committee thought of when considering whom to honor atFriday’s gala.

“He won because of his impeccable character,” she said. “He’s agood role model and represents Brookhaven well.”

Henderson, a 1965 graduate of Alexander High School, was electedin a landslide in 2001 to become Brookhaven’s first black policechief.

The chief was born on June 13, 1947, to Arlustra “Pap” Sr. andChristine Henderson in Brookhaven. He worked at Stahl-Urban in theshipping department until it closed. While working at Stahl-Urban,Pap joined the police force in 1970 and worked the midnight shiftwhile working for the company during the day.

Henderson worked two jobs for most of his life before beingelected chief, including being the first security officer atWal-Mart Distribution Center.

He is a member of Mt. Wade Baptist Church, where he serves asdeacon, choir director, music director of the brotherhood,president of pastor’s aid and head of the building and groundscommittee.

He married the former Ella Johnson on Sept. 14, 1968. The couplehave three children and three grandchildren.

Walker served three terms as mayor of Vicksburg and two terms onthe Warren County Board of Supervisors before accepting his currentposition. He has also served as assistant secretary of state forelections, coordinator of the Mississippi Legal Services Coalitionand field secretary for the state National Association for theAdvancement of Colored People.

A 1966 graduate of Jackson State College, Walker joined theinstitution’s history faculty in 1971. He served as interim head ofthe history department during the 1972-73 academic year. He alsohas the distinction of being the first black to earn a graduatedegree from the University of Mississippi and the first black toteach there. He was also the first black to be elected mayor ofVicksburg.

Arrivals at Friday’s event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with valetparking provided at the door. The valet area will be covered by alarge awning to protect arrivals in case of rain, Powell said.

Guests are invited to remain after the speakers for dancing tothe music of a live band.

An “open mike” period will also be available to allow guests tomake public comments about Henderson.

“We’re looking for everything to be over around 10 p.m.,” Powellsaid.