Glasper dedicated to Vicksburg

Published 7:02 pm Sunday, January 28, 2018

Willie Glasper has held a lot of titles in his life besides being the postmaster for Port Gibson.

He’s been a radio announcer who had his own Sunday radio jazz program, served as program director and sales manager for radio stations WQVC and WRTM here, is the author of three books and teaches a Biblical studies class at Christian Homes No. 2 Baptist Church on Lee Road.

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But ask people around Warren County who know him, and they may connect him to two holidays — Memorial Day and Veterans Day, because Glasper has been closely involved with programs observing both holidays.

“One of my first projects was when I discovered there were no Memorial Day activities in the city,” he said. “The American Legion would have a program, but there was nothing else.”

He went to see Melvin Redmon, who at the time was serving as Vicksburg mayor following the resignation of Demery Grubbs, who went to work for the Mississippi Municipal League.

“Mr. Redmon was really Vicksburg’s first black mayor,” Glasper said. “They (the Board of Mayor and Aldermen) granted me permission to have Memorial Day activities, but they asked me to do one thing, to go to the American Legion and talk to them and see if we could do something together, and (Legion) Post 213 has been there with me for all these years.

“Louis Sullivan and I formed the Vicksburg Warren County Memorial Day Committee.”

Glasper’s father was involved in the Veterans Day programs, he said. When his father died, he joined with Charles Scott, “And he and I were working it together. When he died, I took the Veterans Day with the Legion.”

He said his influence to do both programs is his admiration of veterans and the military.

“I believe we owe our soldiers much gratitude and respect for the service they have rendered this country and the freedoms we enjoy so much,” Glasper said. “I’m not a veteran. My father was in World War II. My brother is a Vietnam veteran. If I look back over my life, one of the things I regret is the fact that I didn’t serve my country in the wars. I’ve always looked up to the soldiers, respected them. I just felt in my heart that there was something that needed to be done, and I’ve had strong feeling for that through the years, and I still have.”

Glasper is the state and local commander of the Sons of the American Legion, an organization open to the descendants of someone who has served in the military.

“We assist the Legion members,” he said. “We have a Flag Day ceremony where we dispose of unserviceable flags and assist the Legion post with programs like Memorial and Veterans Day.”

Another organization that keeps Glasper busy is the Vicksburg Homecoming Benevolent Club, a community service organization that helps those in need founded in 1975 by Booker T. Wilson, a Vicksburg native who lived in Washington D.C.

His influence to join the organization came from a former teacher.

“Mrs. T.P. Williams was a founding member,” Glasper said. “She asked me to help, and I sold tickets (for the homecoming) on her team. From that, I became a member in 1975.”

Glasper presently serves as the club’s president.

“We have helped so many people,” he said.  “We give out an average of 15 to 22 scholarships a year. We aid people who are burned out (of their homes). If their water or lights or gas get turned off, they call us and we do a personal screening and we give assistance.”

Members also visit nursing homes once a year to play bingo with the residents and sponsor the annual officer of the year banquet, which is held the third Wednesday in February.

“We have really been able to reach out and recognize our finest law enforcement officers and firefighters,” Glasper said. “Recently, we added the Highway Patrol. The fire department includes EMTs.

“I get excited (about the organization) because we do so much. We have oratorical contests in June for seventh graders and high school students. We have an essay contest for junior high, and the high school students give a speech. The topic is the organization’s motto, ‘Happiness is coming home.’”

He said he enjoys seeing how happy former residents are when they come home for the annual homecoming.

“I’ve been to many conventions, and you have one group over here talking about one thing and another group talking about another thing,” Glasper said. “When you get down to the homecoming activities, everyone’s talking about Vicksburg, Mississippi.

“There’s no other conversation going on. It’s about Vicksburg, the alleys and the dirt roads, the buildings and the individuals. Beauty and love; such a joy.”

The organization, he said, is one that gives back to the community. “It’s not that you’re going to receive something, it’s that you’re giving so much of yourself and time and your finances to better this community.”

Glasper is also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, an organization he joined several years ago at the urging of his wife.

“They’re a great group of guys,” he said. “They’re gentlemen, and they have a vision for the city they have love for the community. We have brothers who really give up their time in service for mankind and the community. We have voter registration classes, and a Project Alpha group of young men that’s outstanding. It’s a community service organization and I’m proud to be a part for what they stand for.”

Glasper said his interest in community service comes from his need to stay active.

“I don’t think there’s an inactive bone in me. I can’t stay still. If I see something that needs to be done, I just do it. I don’t wait for someone else to do it. I just feel if it has to be done, we just go through the proper protocol and get it done.

“I like helping people and helping out and doing various things. I love Vicksburg. I don’t think you can go to a better place and live than Vicksburg, Mississippi. I’ve always been an advocate for Vicksburg. I look at Vicksburg and the potential that it has. I want us to stay focused on what this city can be.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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