MacArthur Fellows Program

Billie Jean Young

Community Development Leader | Class of November 1984

Community Development Leader
Jackson , Mississippi
37 at time of award
Published November 1, 1984

About Billie's Work

Billie Jean Young is an attorney, a poet, and a performer who is active in community affairs, women’s issues, and the arts.

Young served as a community organizer for the Southwest Alabama Farmers Cooperative Association, as a land specialist for the Rural Land Alliance, and as executive director of the Southern Rural Women’s Network, an organization dedicated to political and social development in the South.  She also served as chairperson of the Rural Development Leadership Network, which sponsors rural community development and training opportunities.  Young is co-founder of the Branch Heights Dance Company and the Blackbelt Arts and Cultural Center, both in Alabama.  She also wrote and performs a one-woman show on the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, the civil rights and political activist.  Her play, Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light… appears in the anthology, Mississippi Dramatists: Reflections of Childhood and Youth (1991).  She is the author of Fear Not the Fall (2003), a collection of poems and a two-act drama.


Young is the director of the Drama Project and co-director of the Southwest Alabama Association of Rural and Minority Women, both in Pennington, Alabama.

Young received a B.A. (1974) from Judson College and a J.D. (1978) from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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