Coming Home to Mississippi
Publication Year: 2013
In this collection, essayists examine their lives, their memories of Mississippi, the reasons they left the state, and what drew them back. They talk about how life differs and wears on you in the far-flung parts of our nation, and the qualities that make Mississippi unique.The writers from all corners of the state are as diverse as the regions from which they come. They are of different races, different life experiences, different talents, and different temperaments. Yet in acceding to the magical lure of Mississippi they are in many ways alike. Their roots are deep in the rich soil of this state, and they come from strong families that valued education and promoted an indomitable optimism. Successes stem from a passion, usually emerging early in life, that burns within them. But that passion is tempered, disciplined, encouraged, and influenced by the people around them, as well as the landscape and the history of their times.
These essays give us a glimpse of the people and places that nurtured the young lives of the essayists and offered the values that directed them as they sought their dreams elsewhere. Often they found that opportunity was within their grasp in their home state and came back to realize their full potential. They came back, in some cases, to retire to a familiar place of pleasant memories, to family and to friends. They all have a love and respect for Mississippi and continue, back home, to use their talents to help make the state an even better place to live.
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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Coming Home to Mississippi is the companion to our earlier collection Growing Up in Mississippi. Growing Up aspires to tell the reader what makes a Mississippian, to somehow explain the influences within the state that propel our citizens of the world to accomplish so much.Coming Home examines Mississippians’ comings and goings—why ...
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William Dunlap of Webster County is a peripatetic artist who maintains studios in McLean, Virginia, Coral Gables, Florida, and Mathiston, Mis-sissippi. His paintings, sculpture, and constructions can be found in a broad array of public and private collections. The University Press of Mississippi recently published a comprehensive monograph titled Dun-...
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Morgan Freeman was born in Memphis in 1937, but grew up in Charles-ton and Greenwood, Mississippi. He is a major film actor who has performed in some ninety-four movies, as well as being a director, an aviator, and the owner of Ground Zero Blues Club, located in Clarks-dale, Mississippi. He has won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actor’s Guild ...
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Norma Latimer Watkins was born at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Missis-sippi, and attended Power and Duling Elementary Schools, Bailey Ju-nior High, and Central High School. She was christened, confirmed, and married by Dr. Selah at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church. She had four children at St. Dominic Hospital and graduated with hon-...
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William Jeanes left Mississippi to become a navy officer, to work in New York, to live for a time in the Bahamas, and again to work in New York. For twenty-one years he was a resident of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, be-fore retiring—sort of—to Pass Christian in 1999. Along the way he was editor-in-chief of Car and Driver and publisher of that magazine and ...
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Willie Morris, a native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, graduated from the University of Texas and studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Schol-ar. He was editor of The Texas Observer, and served as editor-in-chief of Harper’s Magazine from 1967 to 1971. He authored sixteen books, including The Courting of Marcus Dupree, winner of the Christopher ...
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Cynthia Walker is a poetry and fiction writer who lives in peace and harmony in the woods of Jones County with her husband, screenwriter David Sheffield, and a plethora of animals. She has been a student, teacher, and publisher of literature and language, and considers her greatest gifts in life to be her meager talent as a horse whisperer and ...
Michael Farris Smith
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Michael Farris Smith is a native Mississippian, and has spent time living in France and Switzerland. He is the author of the novella The Hands of Strangers, and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numer-ous literary reviews and anthologies. His new novel, Rivers, will be published by Simon & Schuster. He is the recipient of a Mississippi Arts ...
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Wyatt Cooper was born on a farm in Quitman, Mississippi, in 1927, graduated from high school in New Orleans, and attended the Univer-sity of California–Berkeley and U.C.L.A., where he majored in theatre arts. He was an actor on stage and in television, a screenwriter, and an editor. He was married to the artist Gloria Vanderbilt, and they lived in ...
Judy H. Tucker
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Judy H. Tucker, an independent editor and playwright, was awarded a Literary Arts Fellowship by the Mississippi Arts Commission in 2007. Her plays have been produced and/or read at New Stage Theater and Fondren Workshop Theatre in Jackson, the Alabama Shakespeare Festi-val, and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Tucker has ...
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Scott Stricklin, Mississippi State University athletic director, was born in Jackson, Mississippi, and is a 1992 graduate of MSU, where he vol-unteered as a freshman in the athletic department information office. After graduation, he worked in MSU’s athletic program, which led him to Auburn, Tulane, Baylor, University of Kentucky, and then back to ...
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Carolyn Haines grew up in Lucedale, the daughter of newspaper own-ers/journalists. She joined the family business as a journalist, and af-ter ten years switched to fiction writing. She is the recipient of many awards for her fiction, the latest being the 2011 RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for her mysteries, the 2010 Harper Lee Award for Distinguished ...
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David Sheffield began his screenwriting career as a writer for Saturday Night Live, where he contributed many of Eddie Murphy’s most mem-orable sketches, including “Buckwheat,” “Gumby,” “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood,” and “James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party.” His mov-ie credits—all shared with long-time writing partner Barry Blaustein—...
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Ronnie Riggs was born in Laurel and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisi-ana, and Hattiesburg. He graduated from the University of Mississippi, lived and worked in New Orleans for a few years, then moved to Mo-held various managerial positions in industry accounting. He and his wife are the parents of two sons. He returns to Mississippi regularly to ...
Charline R. McCord
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Charline R. McCord was born in Hattiesburg and grew up in Laurel and Jackson, Tennessee. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Missis-sippi College, where she won the Bellamann Award for Creative Writing, edited the literary magazine, and was named 2009 Distinguished Alum-...
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Barry Hannah was born in Meridian and grew up in Clinton. He earned a bachelor of arts from Mississippi College and a master of arts and master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Arkansas. Hannah taught creative writing at numerous colleges and universities and was writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi at the time ...
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Jesmyn Ward is a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Her nov-els, Where the Line Bleeds and Salvage the Bones, are both set on the Mississippi coast where she grew up. Salvage the Bones is the 2011 winner of the National Book Award in fiction. Bloomsbury will publish ...
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Dolphus Weary, president of R.E.A.L. Christian Foundation in Richland, holds degrees from Los Angeles Baptist College, Los Angeles Baptist Seminary, and the University of Southern Mississippi in addition to the doctor of ministry degree from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jack-son, Mississippi. He has also received four honorary doctoral degrees ...
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Alice Jackson is a veteran journalist, reporting on crime, politics, and public corruption for newspapers, television, and magazines, including Time, People, and the New York Times. During more than thirty years of news assignments, she has traveled the width and length of her adopted state. She resided on the shores of the Mississippi Sound ...
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Colonel Kevin Lee Bullard, a native Jacksonian, grew up in Magee and began his college career at the University of Southern Mississippi, graduating from Mississippi College in 1990. He joined the Mississippi National Guard in January of 1983 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in June of 1988. He was mobilized in support of Operation ...
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Curtis Wilkie was born in Mississippi and spent most of the early part his life in the state. After beginning his career as a journalist with the Clarksdale Press Register, he went on to become a national and foreign correspondent for the Boston Globe, where he worked for more than a quarter-century. He is the author of three books: Arkansas Mischief, ...
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Tricia Walker, award-winning songwriter and recording artist, is the di-rector of the Delta Music Institute, a recording arts and music industry studies program at her alma mater Delta State University. Walker spent twenty-six years in Nashville, where her songs were recorded by a num-ber of artists including Faith Hill, Patty Loveless, and Alison Krauss, ...
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Sela Ward, a Meridian native, attended the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa before going to New York City where she worked as a com-mercial model. She later moved to Hollywood to work in TV and feature films. She has won two Emmys, a Cable Ace Award, and a Golden Globe Award for her work. She founded Hope Village for Children in Meridian ...
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Russell Knight is a master craftsman and a true pioneer of taxidermy. His thriving company, Knight’s Taxidermy, is based in Anchorage, Alas-ka, and is the setting for his television show Mounted in Alaska. Born in Jackson, he is an avid outdoorsman, published author, Civil War buff, and proud conservationist. Knight also created, patented, and sold the ...
Marco St. John
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Marco St. John has been a professional actor all his adult life, working in New York, Los Angeles, Europe, and most recently in Louisiana’s budding film industry. He has appeared on Broadway, off-Broadway, and in regional theater, and has a solid background in Shakespeare, having played Hamlet when he was twenty-eight years old. He has had ...
J. Dale Thorn
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J. Dale Thorn enjoyed a career in journalism, politics, and higher educa-tion in Louisiana before retiring to his native Mississippi. At Louisiana State University he was a professor of mass communication, teaching courses in writing, media law, public relations, and public opinion. He also served as a university vice president and on the Louisiana ...
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Jo McDivitt was born in Pontotoc and grew up in Amory, in north Missis-sippi. She is a writer and newspaper publisher and formerly a flight at-tendant with United Airlines, a publicist at Niki Singer, Inc., in New York City, and host of a Memphis talk radio show, A Cup of Jo. She was a re-cipient of a 2011 Spirit of Women Spirit in Action award. She now lives ...
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Sam Haskell, a native Mississippian, rose through the ranks of the agents in the television industry. As Worldwide Head of Television for the agency, he represented many Hollywood luminaries. He also pack-aged such megahit television shows as The Cosby Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, and Who Wants to Be ...
Johnnie Mae Maberry
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Johnnie Mae Maberry is a Jackson native who graduated from Tougaloo College with a bachelor’s degree in art/art education and Mississippi College with a master’s degree in art education and an MFA. A prolific artist, Maberry produces 3-D paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and mixed media compositions. She is an associate professor of art ...
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Keith Thibodeaux came to the world’s attention as the drum-playing child prodigy in the role of Little Ricky in the classic comedy I Love Lucy. He went on to play in many more productions, including The Andy Griffith Show, appearing as Opie’s best friend. While attending the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Keith joined, recorded with, ...
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Maureen Ryan is professor of English at the University of Southern Mis-sissippi, where she served for many years as dean of the Honors Col-lege and currently teaches modern and contemporary American litera-ture. Her publications include The Other Side of Grief: The Home Front and the Aftermath in American Narratives of the Vietnam War (Univer-...
Mary Donnelly Haskell
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Mary Donnelly Haskell, born in Beaumont, Texas, came to Ole Miss in the fall of 1976, where she met her future husband, Sam Haskell. She pledged Chi Omega sorority, represented Ole Miss in the Miss Missis-sippi Pageant, and won the crown. After completing her year as Miss Mississippi and graduating from Ole Miss in 1981, she moved to Los ...
Bob Allan Dunaway
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Bob Allan Dunaway is a retired art teacher and a native of Walthall County. He moved to Columbia, Mississippi, with his mother at the start of World War II. He became interested in photography and art, which he studied at Mississippi College after a tour in the air force. For thirty-five years he taught art in the Jackson public schools and at Mis-...
Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
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Jerry W. Ward, Jr., is a Distinguished Scholar and professor of English at Dillard University and a Famous Overseas Professor at Central China Normal University (Wuhan). He spent thirty-two years as the Lawrence Durgin Professor of Literature at Tougaloo College. Recognized as one of the leading experts on Richard Wright, he is a founding member ...
Mary Ann Mobley
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Mary Ann Mobley, Miss America 1959 from Brandon, Mississippi, has won many awards for work in the entertainment industry and for her work on behalf of war and famine victims. Her numerous honors in-clude a Golden Globe Award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Asso-ciation as “International Female Star of Tomorrow” (1965), Mississippi ...
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The editors are deeply indebted to each of the writers represented in this collection who responded promptly to our various requests for memories, bios, and photographs. We understand all too well that they had to make time in their packed schedules to pause and reflect, pull and reassemble the past, shape into words and share on paper their ...
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Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2013