State senator Alice Harden dies at 64 - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

State senator Alice Harden dies at 64

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Say the name Alice Harden and you will hear the word education in the conversation. The longtime state senator has died after a lengthy illness. Say the name Alice Harden and you will hear the word education in the conversation. The longtime state senator has died after a lengthy illness.

JACKSON, MS (MSNewsNow) - State Sen. Alice Harden, a Democrat from Jackson passed away Thursday, but is remembered for her passion for education and battles to better public education.

Say the name Alice Harden and you will hear the word education in the conversation. The longtime state senator has died after a lengthy illness.

While she is being mourned, Senator Alice Harden is also being celebrated as a champion for her community as well as the state of Mississippi.

It's safe to say Alice Harden's passion for education launched a political career. A former teacher and president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, Harden led a rally in 1985 salary challenges for the state's teachers.

"[If] the salary issue is not dealt with equitably, then the teachers in the state of Mississippi will probably have to take some kind of job action," stated Harden at the rally.

And take action they did. The educators formed a strike and march on the Capitol, which ended with pay raises for Mississippi teachers. Harden was a fearless fighter who didn't mince words, even calling then Governor Bill Allain to task stating he was "not showing any leadership" on the teacher pay issue.

The Pike County native moved from the classroom to the state senate chambers in 1988. She was former chair of both the education and universities and colleges committees.

In making the announcement of Harden's passing, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said, "As a former teacher, Senator Harden brought her passion for improving Mississippi's schools and universities to the state senate. She fought diligently for all Mississippi children to have an opportunity to receive a good education. Her dedication to public service will be missed. Elee and I pray for her family during this difficult time."

Rep. Credell Calhoun added, "It's a great loss for the city of Jackson; for the state of Mississippi and for the United States of America."

Rep. Alyce Clarke, who was not only Harden's colleague in the legislature, but was also a sorority sister of the Jackson State University graduate, remembers her friend's firey personality and passion for education.

"I remember when they were trying to move some of the schools out of this district and Alice said no way," recalls Clarke. "Alice was somebody you could depend on when it came to education; came to your community. Now, sometimes people forget what they said they're going to do, but if Alice told you that she was going to be with you, you could put it in the bank."

Alice Varnado Harden was 64-years-old. She is survived by her husband, Dennis, and her adopted 12-year-old son. 

Funeral services for Harden will be held on Dec. 14 at Greater St. James Baptist Church at 11:00 a.m. The church is located at 1301 Jones Avenue in Jackson.

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