Mississippi is still burning. Times have changed, but the incendiaries won't quit. Mississippi, statistically, could shame most of our states with its minimal per-capita crime, its cultural maturity and its distinguished alumni. But Mississippi has enough residual gentility of the Old South not to rub our noses in our own comparative inadequacy.
The pack-media could not wait to remake the movie MISSISSIPPI BURNING, into a TV version called, MURDER IN MISSISSIPPI. Thus yet another generation of Americans is indoctrinated with indelible snapshots which are half a century out of date. The very idea that anybody from New York, D.C., Chicago or L. A. could launch stones from those shabby glass houses toward anybody else is patently absurd. Lilliputians have a psychological need to make everybody else appear small and Mississippi, too nice to fight back, is such an easy target.
The International Ballet Competition regularly rotates among four citadels where there is a sufficiency of sophisticated art appreciation: Vama, Bulgaria; Helsinki, Finland; Moscow, Russia and Jackson, Mississippi.
Only Mississippi has a satellite art program in which the State Museum of Art sends exhibits around the state for the enjoyment of smaller communities. No state can point to a richer per capita contribution to arts and letters. William Faulkner, Richard Wright, Walker Percy, Ellen Douglas, Willie Morris, Margaret Walker Alexander, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs) and John Grisham are Mississippians.
As are Leontyne Price, Elvis Presley, Tammy Wynette, B. B. King, Jimmy Rogers, Oprah Winfrey, and Jimmy Buffett.
Scenery? The Nachez Trace is the second most traveled parkway in our nation. With magnolia and dogwood, stately pines and moss-draped oaks, Mississippi is in bloom all year 'round. And the state stays busy---manufacturing more upholstered furniture than any state; testing space shuttle engines for NASA; and building rocket motors.
Much of our nation's most monumental medical progress has roots in Mississippi. The first heart transplant in 1964. The first lung transplant in 1963. The most widely used medical textbook in the world, THE TEXTBOOK OF MEDICAL PHYSIOLOGY, reprinted in ten languages, was authored by Dr. Arthur Guyton of the University of Mississippi.
The "Case Method" of practicing law, the basis of the United States legal system, was developed at the University of Mississippi.
Nationally, educators are chewing their fingernails up past the second knuckle anxious about the disgraceful rate of dropouts and illiterate graduates. In Mississippi, the state government and two philanthropic organizations have teamed up to put a computer-based literacy program in every elementary school in the state. Maybe Mississippi is right to downplay its opportunities, advantages and refinement. The ill-mannered rest of us, converging, would surely mess it up.
This is Paul Harvey...Good Day.
Thank you Mr. Harvey and good day to you also.