Guyton family shares memories, scrapbooks of former Reflector editor

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

During a special campus ceremony Wednesday, brothers Steve and Sam Guyton (left and right, respectively) presented a collection of scrapbooks developed by their late sibling, Earl Love Guyton, to Ryan Semmes of the MSU Libraries.
During a special campus ceremony Wednesday, brothers Steve and Sam Guyton (left and right, respectively) presented a collection of scrapbooks developed by their late sibling, Earl Love Guyton, to Ryan Semmes of the MSU Libraries.
Photo by: Megan Bean

STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's Mitchell Memorial Library now is home to a special donation made by family members of a late Jackson native and Mississippi State alumnus known for his compassion for others and strong sense of duty in the pursuit of truth and justice.

During a Wednesday [Oct. 8] ceremony at the university's Hunter Henry Center, family and friends gathered to share memories of Earl Love Guyton and present scrapbooks he had assembled during and after his time on campus.

Guyton was a 1956 MSU magna cum laude graduate in public affairs (a liberal arts-oriented pre-law curriculum) who also minored in history at the land-grant institution. During his time as editor of The Reflector, the student-run newspaper, the Kosciusko-reared Guyton garnered a reputation for courageously speaking out on unpopular but important issues of the day, including race relations, Mississippi politics and politicians and decisions made by school administrators.

In addition to serving as the 1955-56 Reflector editor, Earl Love, as he was known, had been actively involved in a number of other MSU student organizations, including the YMCA Cabinet and MSU Student Council. He was president of campus chapters of Pi Delta Epsilon journalism and Phi Alpha Theta history honor societies and a member of the Army ROTC. Additionally, he worked part-time as a news and feature writer for the university's publicity department.

By virtue of his numerous campus achievements, the President's and Dean's lists scholar was honored with selections for, among others, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership and Phi Kappa Phi scholastic national honor societies, and Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

"Earl Love taught each of us to question the status quo, state our truth and speak with care to everyone," said brother Sam Guyton in his remarks during the midday program.

Also attending was MSU President Mark E. Keenum, who told family members the university is "very proud and honored to have you here at Mississippi State, and we thank you for all that you've done and continue to do for our students."

Following his MSU graduation, Earl Love went on to serve as an U.S. Army officer before returning to civilian life and working as a traveling news and feature writer for the Jackson State Times newspaper.

According to Sam Guyton, "While on an extensive tour of Europe and northern Africa, Earl Love was writing articles and sending them back to the newspaper. One of these scrapbooks we are presenting to the university today covers his tour through Europe and Africa and what he was seeing and what was happening there in 1959, but he also refers back to a lot of his experiences at Mississippi State in these articles."

Earl Love also studied English and creative writing at the University of Alabama and completed a master's degree in technical writing and minor in communication theory from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Prior to his untimely death on April 12, 1968, at the age of 33, Earl Love had served as a reader-tutor for blind veterans at UA and, later, as a technical writer for the Army Missile Command in Alabama. He also worked for a time in Massachusetts with the advertising and sales promotion department of Sprague Electric Co.

Among others attending the MSU ceremony were Earl Love's sister-in-law, Jean Guyton; brother Steve Guyton; and cousins Polly Brown and Mary Love Taggert, as well as family friends Joy Odom and Donna and Zack Walley.

The ceremony concluded with Sam Guyton's formal presentation on behalf of the family of his elder brother's collection. Ryan Semmes, assistant archivist for MSU Libraries' Congressional and Political Research Center, accepted for the university.

Semmes said that, in addition to being housed physically in University Archives, the scrapbooks eventually will be accessible to all through the repository's digital archives.

In 1995, the Guyton family established the Earl Love Guyton Scholarships as a living memorial in MSU's communication department. A portion of the midday ceremony was devoted to honoring the current group of Guyton Scholars.

Also joining Keenum in expressing appreciation were Dean Gregory Dunaway of the College of Arts and Sciences, who noted the family's continuing support both for MSU students and young people throughout Mississippi, and communication department head John Forde, who gave special recognition to the late journalist's stand "for equal rights before it was popular to do so.

"Earl Love Guyton was a very strong journalist, and it's very important that his legacy as a leader and innovator lives on through his family and through our students," Forde added. "We really appreciate the Guyton family and their contributions to our department and university, and we look forward to continuing relationships and partnerships with them down the road."

The Guyton Scholarship is among nearly a dozen administered by the communication department. For more about the department, see www.comm.msstate.edu, www.facebook.com/pages/Mississippi-State-University-Department-of-Commun... and www.twitter.com/MSUComm.

Complete information about MSU is available at www.msstate.edu, www.facebook.com/msstate, www.instagram.com/msstate, and www.twitter.com/msstate.

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 05:00