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Mississippi Moments Podcast

Since 1971, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage has been preserving the memories of Mississippians from all walks of life. Our collection of over 4,000 interviews and counting has proven an invaluable resource for teachers, writers, researchers, and museums. While our collection has a recognized strength in the history of the civil rights movement and veterans' histories, the Center has collected broadly. The topics covered within the collection encompass the breadth of the state’s history.   Mississippi Moments began in early 2005 as a weekly series of radio spots broadcast statewide on Mississippi Public Broadcasting with funding provided by the Mississippi Humanities Council. Each episode features stories gleaned from hours of research, edited for time and clarity and narrated by Mississippi broadcast veteran, Bill Ellison. These stories range in topic and tone, but war stories and the struggle for civil rights receive the most attention. MSMO is not a History series. History frequently comes along for the ride, but Story drives the narrative. In 2009, the Mississippi Moments Podcast was launched as a way to make past and future episodes available online and searchable by subject. The podcast format allows us to greatly expand on the broadcast version and bonus content is a given. So give us a listen. With over 600 episodes available and new ones added each month, you are certain to find some amazing, moving stories about the diverse and colorful people who call Mississippi home.
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Now displaying: 2021
Feb 22, 2021

From a young age Patrick Carr dreamed of being a pilot in the Army Air Corps, even sending for literature from Jackson when he was twelve. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered WWII, nineteen year old Carr enlisted in the Army Air Corps determined to make that dream a reality.

Unfortunately, Carr washed out of the pilot program because of faulty depth perception. It was then he decided to enter gunnery school instead and became a waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber. This week we dive into his story from this interview recorded on October 4, 1973.

1973 – Patrick Carr grew up on a farm near the small community of Paulding, Mississippi. In this episode, he recalls joining the Army Air Corp and becoming a gunner on a B-24 bomber in 1942. In August of 1944, Carr’s plane was shot down during a bombing run over Budapest. He remembers the angry mob waiting for him and being captured by the Germans.

Carr was held prisoner in a German POW camp (Stalag Luft IV) during the final eight months of WWII. He describes the meager rations they lived on and being slapped around by the guards. As the Russian Army advanced on their camp in the closing days of the war, Carr and his fellow POWs were marched away from the front line by the German guards. He describes a couple of times they were at risk of being killed by friendly fire.

PHOTO: Model of Stalag Luft III, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=534329

Feb 8, 2021

During our 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage will continue to dig deep into our collection to bring you significant stories of Mississippians from all walks of life.

On the 25th Anniversary of the Mississippi Humanities Council’s founding, Dr. Cora Ellen Norman made this observation on being selected as the group’s first Executive Director. “If I were being interviewed for [the] job today, there is no one in the humanities in the nation that would hire me. I had no background in the humanities.”

Indeed, someone with a master’s in chemistry and physics seems an unlikely choice to champion the humanities in our state, but it turned out to be the right choice. Norman brought a passion and commitment to the task of developing programs for the betterment of all our citizens that far outsized her slight stature. In this interview from 1997, recorded soon after her twenty-four-year tenure ended, she pulls no punches in recounting the challenges they faced.

1997 – In 1972, Cora Norman was working in Continuing Education at the University of Mississippi. In this episode, she recounts being hired as director of a new statewide Public Humanities program. Early Mississippi Humanities Council programs focused on improving education. Norman recalls the reluctance of school superintendents to host these public forums.

Convincing civic groups to host Humanities Council events required spending a lot of time in the field. Norman explains how limited staffing made being out of the office even more difficult.

The Mississippi Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau “features our state’s finest historians, writers and storytellers talking about a wide variety of subjects related to Mississippi and beyond.” Norman reflects with pride on the positive impact the program had during her tenure as director.

Dr. Cora Ellen Norman, 94, passed away on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

Feb 1, 2021

During our 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage will continue to dig deep into our collection to bring you significant stories of Mississippians from all walks of life.

Few individuals had more impact on the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi than Dr. Aaron Henry. The son of sharecroppers, Henry was born in Dublin, Mississippi and raised on the Flowers brothers’ plantation. Henry’s father trained to become a cobbler and moved their family to Clarksdale to provide better opportunities for his children to receive an education.

Henry excelled scholastically and would eventually own his own pharmacy. In 1951 he was a founding member of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. He joined the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP in 1954 and was elected President in 1959. His accomplishments are too numerous to name here, but Henry was on the front lines of every battled waged for equality in Mississippi throughout his life. He served as a member of Mississippi State House of Representatives from 1982 to 1996. He died of congestive heart failure in 1997. Please enjoy these excerpts from his COHCH interview conducted May 1, 1972.

1972 – Dr. Aaron Henry of Clarksdale joined the Mississippi Chapter of the NAACP in 1954. He explains how the organization’s shift towards integration angered the white community. Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, Henry promoted unity and equality for all Mississippians. He reflects on the need for racial reconciliation in a healthy and prosperous society.

During the long hot summer of 1964, three young civil rights workers went missing in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Henry recalls the search for Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, as well as his own brush with death.

As a civil rights activist, Dr. Aaron Henry listened to many inspirational speeches. He shares some of his favorite lines from newspaper publisher Hodding Carter and others.

PHOTO: Getty Images, John Dominis

Jan 25, 2021

During our 50th Anniversary Celebration, the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage will continue to dig deep into our collection to bring you significant stories of Mississippians from all walks of life.

1978 – From a young age, Burris Dunn of Jackson was interested in learning the printing business. In this episode, he recalls going to work for a political newspaper owned by Governor Theodore Bilbo in 1923. The Mississippi Free Lance newspaper’s sole purpose was to promote the re-election of Governor Bilbo. Dunn describes working in the printing plant for the charismatic politician.

After Bilbo was elected to a second term in 1927, he lost interest in owning a newspaper. Dunn remembers finding work at another printing house before being called back by the Governor to aid in the election of a political ally.

In the early 1930s, Dunn was working in a Jackson printing house and barely making ends meet. He recounts buying a small printing press and setting up shop in his garage to earn extra money.

PHOTO: Senator Theodore G. Bilbo.

 

Jan 18, 2021

1972 - Hiram Todd grew up on his family’s Newton County farm in the 1880s. In this episode, he describes how they grew their own food and raised cotton for cash. After graduating high school, Todd decided to pursue a career in education. He taught school in Ellisville, Crystal Springs and Hattiesburg before moving to Natchez to accept a position with Stanton College, a private academy.

After eight years, Todd began selling insurance for Penn Mutual and John Hancock, eventually moving into farm appraisals and loan brokerage. After World War I, a boom in the cotton market led to risky land speculation in the Delta. Todd recalls how easy credit brought many Mississippians to financial ruin when the market bubble burst in 1920.

Todd discusses the challenges that Mississippians faced in those days, including the awful effects of chronic and communicable diseases. When Todd was young, outbreaks of malaria, typhoid, and yellow fever were common in Mississippi. He remembers how advances in medicine and public health brought these diseases under control.

In 1941, Todd went to work for the Mississippi State Experiment Station. He reflects on how their research led to advances in agriculture and tree farming.

PHOTO: extension.msstate.edu

Jan 11, 2021

1973 - In 1915 Hawkins Vickers went to work for his brother-in-law selling vegetable plants to local farmers. In this interview from 1973, he explains how that pioneering business model grew into a nationwide industry. Vickers moved to Hattiesburg in 1923 to start his own vegetable plant business. He recalls how two years of bad weather nearly convinced him to return to Georgia.

Raising vegetable plants for industrial farms required mules and manual labor when Vickers started his business in the 1920s. He explains how the development of specialized equipment and growing techniques made their fields more productive and profitable. Vickers would plant vegetable seeds, raise the seedlings to a uniform height, and sell the plants to northern vegetable farms. He discusses the importance of buying seeds from a reputable breeder.

From 1924 until 1966, Vickers Plant Farm was a major source of vegetable plants for northern growers like Campbells, Heinz, and Van Camp. During their busiest year, they shipped over 66 million cabbage plants.

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