The gold star Vicksburg ‘revenuer’ honored 128 years after killing

Published 11:45 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nearly 128 years after his death, the first African-American federal law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty — a man born in Vicksburg and buried here in an unnamed church cemetery — has been awarded the Gold Star Medal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

William Henderson Foote, a post-Reconstruction-era deputy collector or “revenuer,” was honored at the annual conference of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives on July 18 in Lexington, Ky.

Foote’s great-niece, history professor and part-time Vicksburg resident Dr. Bettye Gardner, accepted the award to a standing ovation, calling it “quite a moment.”

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“One of the most meaningful experiences was that so many people who did not know him at all still were so respectful, so aware of what this man was doing 128 years ago,” said Gardner. “They were very appreciative of him and of my coming to receive this award.”