Thursday, October 26, 2005
Rust receives Ayers files
By SUE WATSON
Rust College has been selected as a repository of the Ayers case files accumulated by North Mississippi Rural Legal Services (NMSRLS) between 1975 and 1995.
The signing of the contract, that enables Rust to receive the case files of the famous higher education case in Mississippi that took 29 years to settle, took place Tuesday of last week. President David Beckley, vice president Ishmell Edwards, Ben Thomas Cole II, a Rustite and executive director of NMSRLS, and head librarian with the Leontyne Price Library, Anita Moore, were present at the signing ceremony.
The records will be filed at the library.
Beckley said Rust College will work to get the Ayers case files from six or more attorneys for the plaintiffs, who worked on the case between 1996 and 2005 when the case was settled.
Cole did not know the total cost of bringing the Ayers case forward to settlement but said a negotiated settlement for the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees was $2.5 million.
The state Attorney General’s office defended the case with some attorneys in the office and other private attorneys hired by the AG to defend the state in the litigation, Cole said.
Under the terms of the settlement, new educational programs were added to most of the predominantly black colleges in the state, and enhancement of existing programs and facilities was provided in addition to the funding of an endowment for predominantly black colleges.
Under mutual agreements, most majority state colleges helped raise funds for the endowment, Cole said.
Jake Ayers Sr. filed the complaint on behalf of his son and six other plaintiffs, Cole said. The complaint concerned inequity in state funding of predominantly black colleges.
Cole was raised in Marshall County, graduated from Rust College and took a JD degree from Drake University.
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