JANS – October 10, 2023, marked another milestone in the legacy of the late LaRita M. Cooper-Stokes. The day began with the Jackson City Council voting in unison to subtitle a portion of MLK Dr. in honor of the community icon. The street designation will stretch from Woodrow Wilson, where Cooper-Stokes attended church, to Maple Street, where her alma mater, Lanier High School, is located.
Cooper-Stokes was the first Black female county court judge in Hinds County. She also was the first Black female chief judge on the court. In addition, Cooper-Stokes served as Ward 3 representative on the Jackson City Council while her husband, current Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth I. Stokes, was on the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.
The day ended with family members and friends of Cooper-Stokes attending the 95th Mississippi Bar Association Memorial Service for fallen colleagues over the past year. Other deceased members from Jackson are Robert H. Bass, Henderson S. Hall Jr., Byron W. Hughes, William T. Jones, William H. Leech, Louis J. Lyell, Burwell B. McClendon Jr., James A. Peden Jr., Norma Newell Price, and Dennis C. Smith. The memorial for the 91 deceased members was held in the chambers of the Mississippi Supreme Court; all nine justices were present with Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph presiding over the program.
Mississippi Bar President Jenny Tyler Baker presented the eulogy, and Bar President-Elect Meade Mitchell presented the resolution. Presiding Justice T. Kenneth Griffis responded on behalf of the court.
The Mississippi Bar hosts the Memorial Service annually to acknowledge and pay tribute to those attorneys and judges who departed this life in the past year. The program expresses gratitude and appreciation for each person’s efforts to contribute to the profession and rule of law in the State of Mississippi.