Honoring Rogers Benjamin Morris, Sr.by Representative Bennie G. Thompson
Posted on 2014-01-07
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor a
remarkable farmer and hero, Mr. Rogers Benjamin Morris, Sr., who is a
resident of Mound Bayou, MS.
His father, Mr. Ajax Julius Morris, Sr., was a fortunate man. His parents afforded him the opportunity to attend Alcorn State College, currently known today as Alcorn State University, during a time when most African Americans received very little or, in many instances, no educational opportunities at all. Also, his wife, Rowena Bell Morris, attended Natchez College. In 1974, after rearing and formally educating all five of their children, Mrs. Morris returned to college at Mississippi Valley State University and graduated with a degree in education at the ``tender age of 68.'' As staunch proponents of hard work and educational excellence, Mr. and Mrs. Morris worked unstintingly to ensure that their three sons and two daughters received the best education possible. Among those five children was Rogers Benjamin Morris, Sr., the youngest in the family. He was born on November 9, 1945, in the small, rural community of Winterville, MS, where he received his early education.
In 1964, he graduated as salutatorian from O'Bannon High School, in Greenville, MS. In 1968, he graduated from Jackson State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Biology and a Minor in Chemistry. In 1972, Mr. Morris received a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Health from the University of Cincinnati and furthered his education toward a master's degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
As a youngster growing up on a farm, he learned what it meant to work hard and persevere; these qualities helped direct his career back to the family farm more than 35 years ago. Realizing that farming involves a lot more than the growing of crops, he taught his own sons farm work during the early stages of their lives, thereby providing them with experiences that cultivated and shaped their character, as well as careers.
In the early 1900s his grandfather acquired over 100 acres of land in Washington County, MS--land that has remained in the family for over a century. Presently, as a third generation farmer, he farms this land, in addition to over 600 other acres of crops in the region. As the owner of Morris Farms, he produces corn, rice, soybeans and wheat. He manages some timber and raises sweet potatoes.
Mr. Morris is a member of the Mound Bayou First Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and chairman of the Board of Trustees, and a member of the sanctuary choir. He is also a member of the Shelby- Bolivar County Credit Union and a past member of the Mound Bayou School District Board of Trustees. As a member of the Bolivar County Farm Bureau and Delta Council of Mississippi, he has an opportunity to communicate the needs of farmers to all political and apiculture leaders. He is the assistant secretary of the National Black Growers Council, an organization that defines its mission as, ``We simply love farming''.
Mr. Morris states that ``We smile knowing the food and fiber we produce feed and clothe the world. We farm on lands handed down from generation to generation. We constantly integrate technology . . . . The organization confers with industry leaders to strengthen their mission of improving the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of Black row crop farmers.'' One of Mr. Morris' greatest concerns is the lack of job opportunities for young people in the community. Sweet potato farming allows him to employ a limited number of persons in planting and harvesting.
In June of 2007 a reporter, Carol Guzy, shadowed Mr. Morris for a day on the farm and he was featured in an article in the Washington Post newspaper which detailed the plight of small Black farmers. On July 12- 14, 2012, he was selected to present on the African American Farmers' Panel at the Urban-Ag Academy conference in Des Moines, IA.
Mr. Morris has been married to Mrs. DeVoyce Morris for 44 years and they are the proud parents of four adult sons, Rogers Benjamin Morris, Jr., Jeremy Kyle, Justin and Bertrand. They are gracious grandparents of three granddaughters, Jordan, Sydnee and Nia Marie and one grandson, Kyle Rogers.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing an amazing farmer, Mr. Roger Morris for his dedication in agriculture.