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*Betty Dickson, former Editor of the Magee Courier, has released a book! 

Betty and her husband Tom were publishers and editors of the Courier several years ago.  Both Tom and Betty were very involved in Magee and Magee Schools.  I am so excited for Betty and plan to purchase the book.  Betty said as soon as possible, she would come to Magee for a book signing.


New book tells the story of one Black woman’s tragedy, strength and endurance, perseverance, love, fear, pain and survival

Betty R. Dickson announces the release of ‘Leaving Mississippi’

ASHEVILLE N.C. – One month shy of her 13th birthday in 1952, Betty R. Dickson watched as a portable electric chair was off-loaded from a huge flatbed truck and into the Simpson County courthouse. A Black man who had killed a constable in 1951 was to be electrocuted that night. His wife, Martha Lee Durr, eight-months pregnant, was arrested, charged with accessory to murder. She lost the baby. This is Martha Lee’s story as told to Dickson.


In “Leaving Mississippi” (published by Xlibris), Dickson tells the story of Martha Lee, a small Black woman, living in Mississippi in 1951, who was captured, beaten and shoved around as law enforcement officers questioned her about the whereabouts of her husband who had killed a white constable. She was in jail for six months in the Simpson County jail before several Black farmers posted bail for her to be released and reunited with her three children. She was never tried in court. Upon release, she focused on getting herself and her children away from Mississippi. Martha Lee Hall, age 93, today lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


“America watched their televisions as protesters, both Black and white, marched in the streets across this country struggling to understand and ask ‘why?’ I want to tell her story because there is much to learn from this amazing woman that can be applied to what is happening in America today, still divided and struggling with so much hate and racism,” Dickson says. “Martha Lee’s story will resonate with those who are seriously trying to delve into the past and the present to find ways to make America a place for all races to live together with understanding of how diversity enriches life for all of us.”


When asked what she wants readers to take away from the book, Dickson answers, “Martha Lee Hall’s story is one of tragedy, strength and endurance, perseverance, love, fear, pain, and — unbelievably and finally — forgiveness. I want to tell her story because there is much to learn from this amazing woman that can be applied to what we have become in America, still divided and with a groundswell of hate and racism.”


Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble


About the Author

Betty Dickson began a newspaper career at age 12 as a “printer’s devil” at the Simpson County News in Mendenhall, Mississippi. She graduated from Southern Mississippi with a degree in liberal arts with a journalism major and worked for newspapers in Lucedale, and Philadelphia. She and her husband Tom became publishers/editors of The Magee Courier in 1970. Considered one of the outstanding weekly newspapers in the state, they won numerous awards in the Mississippi Press Association’s yearly contest. The Dicksons reported on integration of the county schools, exposed corrupt county officials and built a reputation as being unafraid to tackle tough stories in a fair manner. After the newspaper sold in 1984, she became executive director of the Mississippi Nurses Association where she excelled in association management and as a lobbyist for nurses. She continued as a lobbyist after retirement from the association. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina. is an online news source covering Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.


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