Desoto County News

Partying with a purpose, Superior 12 celebrates 50 years

Photo: The Superior 12. From left, (back row) Dwight Wheeler, James Hankins Jr., Opher Neely Jr., Adolphis Shipp, Lennon Wilson, Melvin Humphreys. (Front row) Bobby Spears, David Hankins, Danny Hankins, Jimmy Hankins and David Miller.

Fifty years ago, a group of African-American men started a social club to hang out and get together on a regular basis. Then they decided they could help others and it has continued that way through a half-century in the Olive Branch area.  They called themselves “The Superior 12,” said club member Jimmy Hankins.  They were recently recognized for their 50 years of service at an event with the Community Foundation of Olive Branch and the City of Olive Branch

The Superior 12 with recognitions from the Community Foundation of Olive Branch and the City of Olive Branch 

“Superior 12 is a social club and we support our community,” Hankins said. “It didn’t start off to be that, but it found itself doing that.”

Hankins said the group started with himself, his brother, and a relative who worked at the same place. Other connections joined them to get together and spend time together, maybe even have a drink or two. As a group they decided they’d go to parties, baseball games together and elsewhere, and Hankins said that’s sort of how the club started.  

“That’s what it started off being but it wound up being a little bit bigger than what we thought it would go,” Hankins said.  “I came up with the name ‘Superior’.”

The number 12 was decided on but when the group met again the next week, 15 guys had been brought together.  The number got whittled down to the dozen that became the original Superior 12.     

The Superior 12 would get together and they would start to raise some money here and there, but Hankins decided they needed to ramp up the collections for their little community.   

“Instead of having a small party, we needed something bigger than that,” Hankins said.  “We had raised enough money that we were going to take the whole community to Sardis the next summer. I didn’t know how many people we had the first time but the second time we went to Sardis we had a whole convoy. We left at four o’clock in the morning and we got back at sundown that evening.”                 

The Superior 12 would raise money for choir robes and other things when needed, but also saw an opportunity to help the Boy Scouts, for instance.  

“We were able to take the Boy Scouts to Six Flags in St. Louis,” Hankins said.

The Superior 12 with recognitions from the Community Foundation of Olive Branch and the City of Olive Branch 

The youngsters had never gone outside of the community before, much less gone to St. Louis and spend a night, all on the money raised by the Superior 12.  

“It was big for me,” Hankins said. “I had never gone to Six Flags, but I had been to St. Louis and we had a great time.”

The Superior 12 remains active, although no ball playing goes on, but they do get together and party together, although the partying may be a bit more sedate than it was 50 years ago.  

“We raise money, in case somebody needs something,” Hankins said. “We still meet every month on the first Sunday of the month. Each club member is responsible for a meeting.”  

One of the efforts the Superior 12 gave their name to was in softball. During the times when African-Americans needed their own place to play, the Superior 12 sponsored softball teams that would play at Isaac Chapel near Ingrams Mill. The Superior 12 bought uniforms and gave them a place to practice, a good clean place to be able to play ball.  

The Mini 12. From left, Ashton Mobley, Bryson Monix, Caden Bobo, Johnathan Noble, Tristan Matthews, King Zanders, Kaiden Finley, Da’ Marion, and Mason Hankins. Not pictured Laren Arnold Above, James D. Hankins.

The Superior 12 also started a trend of other social clubs and organizations but it was the Superior 12 that started to be a support mechanism to the community.  

“That kind of motivated me,” Hankins said. “I could understand that it was better to give than to receive. It really made me think that it was better to give than to receive.”  

Today, the Superior 12 remains the only social club of those that started partying but they still keep partying with a purpose. That purpose is to give back to those who need it.  Twelve African-American men in good standing who for generations have been able to uplift, maintain, and be role models to young Black kids in their community.