Millicent Dixon was born and raised in Los Angeles, lived in Washington DC and crossed paths with former Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and former President Barack Obama (D-IL), but through it all, she has declared Clarksdale and the Delta her home.
Dixon resides in Hernando, but became the City of Clarksdale’s grant writer, economic developer and government relations coordinator in Jan. 2020. The City of Clarksdale contracts with Dixon’s company Cornerstone Services.
Dixon first moved to Clarksdale in 2006 to help her mother, the late Peggy Wright, who was a Clarksdale native. Wright moved to California in the time period of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but retired and came back to Clarksdale late in life.
Dixon initially moved to Clarksdale in 2006 to help her mother. She finished school at Delta State University and earned a degree in political science in 2010.
“I fell in the love with the Delta,” she said. “I fell in love with a Delta boy and he was from Clarksdale.”
Dixon married her husband, Darrell, in 2011, and moved to Washington DC shortly after, but came home to the Delta in 2014.
Dixon is a member of Clarksdale’s Iota Omega Chapter in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Her family history in Clarksdale goes back several generations. Her grandfather, James Walter “JW” Wright, was the first “justice of the peace of color” in Coahoma County. That is an elected judge’s position.
Dixon talked with Mayor Chuck Espy about working for the City of Clarksdale in Dec. 2019.
A previous city grant writer, Teresa Jones, left to work on former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (D) 2020 Presidential Campaign and Dixon took the position.
Former Clarksdale resident Mac Crank was also a grant writer for the city at one time and initially mentioned the position to Dixon in early 2019. But Dixon did not take the position until Jones resigned to be a part of Bloomberg’s campaign.
Dixon began working for the city in Jan. 2020. Since she lived in Hernando, she telecommuted through Zoom some days. She said that helped prepare the city for when the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020.
“We had an advantage here in the office,” Dixon said. “Because the mayor had been so proactive in learning on how to work with me in telecommuting in January, when it became mandatory for everybody in March, we already had a leg up because we had already seen how to do it and how it worked out for us.”
Dixon still telecommutes some days and works in-person other days, depending on the need.
Since working for the City of Clarksdale, Dixon has helped secure $1 million for Sasse Street drainage improvements with a Delta Regional Authority grant and the Mississippi Development Authority under a Community Development Block Grant.
Dixon secured a United States Department of Agriculture grant through the Natural Resources Conservation Service program for riverbank stabilization for erosion on the Sunflower River. She also got the city $700,000 from the Mississippi Department of Transportation to add a sidewalk on Sunflower Avenue. The sidewalk goes from Martin Luther King Boulevard to Highway 61.
She used bond to pave the sidewalk from State Street to Martin Luther King along Madison Avenue.
Dixon said the Delta may be overlooked since “entitlement cities” such as Jackson, Biloxi and Southaven and others with populations of more than 50,000 automatically receive state and federal funding.
Clarksdale has a little less than 15,000 residents, but Dixon continues to work toward securing funding for the community.
“It’s kind of a chicken or the egg situation,” she said. “Are we losing population because we don’t have money or are we losing money because we don’t have population? And the short answer is yes, both, absolutely, and that is a point we try to make to our lawmakers in Jackson all of the time.”
More about Millicent Dixon
Dixon worked for Southern Bancorp Capital Partners as a community development officer. She worked on the Delta Bridge Project to enhance Coahoma County. The Delta Bridge Project mirrored a project in Phillips County, Ark.
After marrying Darrell in 2011, she moved to Washington DC.
Darrell was working for then-Sen. Cochran in Washington DC as an intern with the Delta Council, an economic development agency out of Stoneville. He went on to work for Cochran as a legislative aide and staffer on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
In Washington DC, Dixon went to work for the Delta Regional Authority and started as deputy advisor for federal affairs. She was a designee to the White House rural and economic council and did work reviewing grants for United States Department of Transportation and Department of Labor under then-President Obama. She said that is where her grant experience came from.
Dixon talked about the importance of being able to work with people who have different viewpoints.
“I have worked for Democrats,” she said. “I have worked for Republicans. I worked for Delta Regional Authority during the time they were under Democratic leadership. I was a designee to the White House Rural Council under President Obama. When I went there, I left to work for Sen. Wicker, who is also a Republican, as a legislative aide and a constituent liaison. I am now working in a Democratic administration here.”
Dixon said she has been asked many times if she is a Democrat or Republican.
“My answer is simple,” she said. “I am a professional. I do what is necessary to advance my job, which is right now to move Clarksdale and the Mississippi Delta forward. It’s not about party. It’s about how we can get things done to make this a better place.”
Dixon moved back from Washington DC when Darrell became the pastor of St. Matthew Church of God and Christ in Lambert.
The Dixons commuted from Washington DC to Lambert on weekends when Darrell became the pastor of St. Matthew Church of God and Christ in late 2013.
Millicent and Darrell moved into Dixon’s mother’s home in Clarksdale after she died in 2014.
When the Dixons moved back to the Delta, Millicent worked for Wicker.
Wicker allowed Dixon to transfer to the office in Hernando doing veterans case work. She commuted from Clarksdale until she and Darrell bought a house in Hernando.
“Mine and my husband’s goals have always been to advance Clarksdale, the Delta and Mississippi,” Dixon said. “And, working for DRA, I felt that I was being spread in too much of an area and I really wanted to focus on how to make Mississippi a better place.”
Dixon stopped working for awhile after she had her third child, but she has since started her own company Cornerstone Services.
Dixon’s four children are Michael, 17, Victoria, 9, Elizabeth, 9, and Alexandra, 6.