On November 6, 2021, the Head Start community lost Dr. Marvin Hogan of Jacksonville, Mississippi. Prior to his retirement in March 2020, he served as the CEO and Executive Director of the award-winning Friends of Children of Mississippi for 53 years. Dr. Hogan’s extraordinary record of accomplishments, as well as his wisdom, generosity, and joie de vivre, were well known and inspirational. Over the course of his distinguished career, he left an indelible mark on the world of early childhood education—most especially through his tremendous leadership during the civil rights movement.

During the early years of Head Start’s founding in Mississippi, many elected leaders falsely believed the program would have negative impacts. In Dr. Hogan’s words, “there was no support from anyone, especially the state government… The establishment did not want the program because it was going to take the workers from the field to have to take care of the children.”

In October 1966, Dr. Hogan and local advocates created to plan and coordinate support for over 60 Friends of Children of Mississippi volunteer centers. This was an effort to convince the Office of Economic Opportunity (which was transitioned, in part, to the Department of Health and Human Services in 1981) to reverse its decision not to continue funding for the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM). Dr. Hogan and his colleagues worked for 13 weeks without any funding from federal or state sources, turning to the local community for books, donations, and resources and relying on each other to move the mission forward. It took two years for the CDGM to be fully-funded statewide. Today, the Friends of Children of Mississippi operates as an independent grantee with a service area of 19 counties and 30 Head Start and Early Head Start Centers.

During his long and extraordinary career, Dr. Hogan made significant contributions to the field as a leader and role model. The Friends of Children of Mississippi was most recently featured in NHSA’s Two Generations Together Initiative, which highlighted the most successful adult education and job training models delivered by Head Start programs across the country. Remembering his efforts to loudly trumpet Head Start’s impact, Director of the Mississippi Head Start Association Nita Norphlet-Thompson recalls a quote he often said: “It’s a poor frog that won’t praise his own pond.”

Dr. Hogan himself was all too humble. When asked if he would count himself as a civil rights leader, Dr. Hogan responded: “I never did think of myself as a civil rights individual. I’m just a country boy from Mississippi who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and families. That’s all I’ve ever done.”

No doubt, Dr. Hogan’s legacy and spirit will continue to influence those who follow in his footsteps for many years to come.

Dr. Marvin Hogan is survived by his wife of 50 years, Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan, two sons, Maurice and Marcellus, daughter-in-law, and eight grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Dr. Marvin Hogan Scholarship Fund for Child Development at Tougaloo College.

Yasmina Vinci

Yasmina Vinci is the executive director of the National Head Start Association.

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