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Mississippi Moments Podcast

After fifty years, we've heard it all. From the horrors of war to the struggle for civil rights, Mississippians have shared their stories with us. The writers, the soldiers, the activists, the musicians, the politicians, the comedians, the teachers, the farmers, the sharecroppers, the survivors, the winners, the losers, the haves, and the have-nots. They've all entrusted us with their memories, by the thousands. You like stories? We've got stories. After fifty years, we've heard it all.
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Now displaying: 2022
May 16, 2022

Butch Brown was working at a Hattiesburg jewelry store in 1968 as the war in Vietnam raged on. In this episode, he recalls the day his mother met him at the front door with a draft notice and an airline ticket to Canada.

As a communications man in Vietnam, Brown was responsible for repairing field radios in the jungle.  He discusses being the company “scrounger” and how he earned the call sign “Soda Six.” Brown would occasionally go out on patrol with his infantry company as the radio man. He remembers the night they set up a large ambush in the jungle to catch the Vietcong.

As public opinion about the Vietnam War soured, returning soldiers were often greeted with hostility. Butch Brown describes the reception he got in California versus the one he received in Jackson.

May 9, 2022

For thousands of years, Choctaw Indians hunted, farmed and fished the land that would become Mississippi. In this episode, Tribal Historian Kenneth York discusses their way of life and how European settlers took their homes. In 1830, the Federal government attempted to remove the Choctaw Indians from Mississippi. York describes their connection to the land and sacred burial mounds.

The Choctaw lands of Mississippi are divided into three districts and nine communities. York lists these areas and explains how they got their names.

Today, the tribal headquarters of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is in Neshoba County. According to York, Choctaws still enjoy hunting, fishing, and growing their own food, despite the convenience of modern grocery stores.

PHOTO: Flag of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians - choctaw.org, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=117029903

Apr 25, 2022

WARNING – CONTAINS RACIALLY EXPLICIT LANGUAGE

After Biloxi’s sand beach was reconstructed in the 1950s, only white people were allowed to use it. In this episode, Clemon Jimerson remembers when a trip to the beach meant riding with his family to Gulfport.

On April 24, 1960, Biloxi physician, Gilbert Mason led a group of 125 black citizens to the whites-only beach. Jimerson recalls how that protest turned violent when they were attacked by an angry mob. As protestors relaxed and recreated on the beach, they were approached by a large group of white men armed with sticks, bricks, chains, and other weapons. Jimerson describes the bloody mayhem that followed and how he ran away, fearing for his life.

After the Biloxi Beach Wade-in of 1960, civil rights groups organized voter registration drives, sit-ins, and other demonstrations across the Gulf Coast. Jimerson discusses his role in these events.

Apr 11, 2022

Bess Simmons grew up in Liberty, Mississippi during the 1920s and 30s.  In this episode, she recalls riding to school on her sister’s pet donkey and later, in a homemade school bus.  Simmons had a chance meeting with her future husband when he came to her school for an FFA event. She explains why they didn’t start dating until years later.

In the early 1950s, Simmons worked as a substitute teacher, and with various civic groups.  She remembers welcoming new McComb residents as a member of the Howdycrats.

As a longtime resident of McComb, Simmons met many interesting people and wrote about them in her weekly newspaper column. She recounts the story of Ms. Eddie Newman, known far and wide as a talented seamstress.

PHOTO: McComb, Mississippi in the 1950s.

Apr 4, 2022

Copiah-Lincoln Community College opened their Natchez Campus in Fall of 1972.  Carolyn Vance Smith remembers those early days and her role in starting the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.

Each year, the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration focuses on Mississippi’s contributions to the world of Literature.  Smith discusses how they select the theme for each conference. Since 1989, the NLCC has worked to present memorable programs for conference attendees. Smith recalls two of her favorite events from past years.

The NLCC always includes events and programs for students from the junior high level through college. Smith explains why it is important to make Literature and Writing more accessible to young people.

PHOTO: Natchez Democrat

Mar 28, 2022

Helen Butler was born in Raleigh, Mississippi in the early 1920s. In this episode, she describes living in the Cohay logging camps when her father worked for the Eastman Gardiner lumber company. Butler grew up on her family’s farm in Smith County during the Great Depression.  She recounts riding to school on dirt roads in the primitive school buses known as tally-hoes.

Growing up on a small farm in rural Mississippi during the 1930s meant learning to do without. Butler remembers cooking on a wood-fired stove and patching her school shoes with pasteboard.

According to Butler, even though money was scarce during the Depression, they were never hungry. She explains the advantages of growing your own food and how they would roast and grind coffee beans.

PHOTO: Primitive Model T school bus known as a “Tally-Ho.” Photo and bus restoration by Kirk Hill.

Mar 21, 2022

Sergeant Jacquelyn Welborn joined the Mississippi Army National Guard in fall of 2002. In this episode, she discusses her service in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She credits her family’s military history and the events of 9/11 for inspiring her to enlist.

On April 4, 2003, Welborn’s convoy made the arduous journey from Kuwait to Bagdad. She recalls being cheered on by children and the poor condition of their new base at Abu Ghraib. As the NCO in charge of housing, Welborn’s duties included providing overnight lodging for passing convoys, as well as Marine units needing a place to rest. She takes pride in the quality of accommodations they were able to offer the soldiers.

When Sergeant Welborn first arrived at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, morale among the troops was low. She describes how they worked to provide the soldiers with activities, entertainment, and a place to rest.

PHOTO: briannomi.wordpress.com

Mar 7, 2022

Mona Astin was working in Washington DC as a secretary when she heard about the Women’s Army Corps. In this episode, she discusses joining the WACs and her decision to go to Europe to assist in the war effort.  As a WAC serving in England during the war, Astin helped prepare the invasion force for D-Day. She recalls how German planes and buzz bombs would fly over on their way to targets in London.

In September of 1944, a group of WACs drove a convoy of trucks to the docks in South Hampton for the trip across the English Channel into France. Astin describes riding in a landing craft to Omaha Beach and arriving at the new Allied Headquarters in Rheims.

Six months after WWII ended, all the women who had joined the military were discharged. Astin recalls her service fondly and celebrates the opportunities women enjoy in today’s army.

PHOTO: womenofwwii.com

Feb 28, 2022

Leland native, Mary Allen joined the newly formed Women’s Army Corps in the Summer of 1943. In this episode, she recalls the public’s negative reaction to the WACs and how she gained her father’s approval. As a recruiter for the Women’s Army Corps, Mary Allen signed up young women for service during WWII. She remembers travelling around South Alabama convincing parents to allow their daughters to join.

The Caterpillar Club honors people who have jumped by parachute from a disabled airplane. Allen describes joining that group when the military plane she was riding in crashed. During the final year of WWII, Allen was assigned to a hospital providing support services for soldiers. She discusses riding the hospital trains and the pitiful condition of the returning POWs.

Feb 21, 2022

Reuben Anderson grew up in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1940s and 50s. In this episode, he recalls being inspired to become a civil rights attorney at a young age. When Anderson graduated from Ole’ Miss Law School, there were only a few African American attorneys in Mississippi. He remembers his first job working on school desegregation cases.

In 1985, Rueben Anderson became the first African American to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He discusses his initial reluctance and the comradery he shared with his fellow justices. Justice Anderson served for two terms on the Mississippi Supreme Court. He explains why being first is not as important as the opportunities Black attorneys enjoy today.

PHOTO: MSU.edu

Feb 14, 2022

Alyce Clarke was the first African American female elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. In this episode, Clarke shares her memories of a groundbreaking career in state politics.

She remembers being encouraged to run for political office by her family and friends in 1984. Clarke began her first term in the Mississippi House of Representatives on March 24, 1985. She recalls the swearing-in ceremony and a misunderstanding about her first committee assignment.

As one of the Mississippi House of Representatives’ longest serving members, Clarke has authored several key pieces of legislation. She discusses two of her proudest achievements.

Since 1976, the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus has promoted the needs of their constituents. Clark discusses how they worked to change the rules regarding leadership positions.

Feb 7, 2022

Dr. Eddie Holloway grew up in the Mobile Street area of Hattiesburg during the 1950s and 60s. In this episode, he shares his memories of the mentors, teachers, and business leaders who helped him along the way.  He recalls the Black Community as vibrant and self-sufficient with plenty of success stories.

According to Holloway, Black students in Hattiesburg had many good role models to emulate. He discusses the positive impact teachers had on every aspect of his life growing up on Mobile Street. Even though he was raised in the segregated South, Holloway never felt disadvantaged. He credits the wisdom of the community’s elders in helping him prepare for success.

PODCAST BONUS: As a lifelong educator, Holloway recognizes the importance of a tight knit and involved community. He laments the loss of decorum, respect, and commitment in many of our schools today.

“A lifelong resident of Hattiesburg, Holloway earned four degrees from USM, including a doctorate in educational administration. He is a 2004 inductee of the Southern Miss Alumni Association Hall of Fame and has served as dean of students since 1997 and assistant vice president for student affairs since 2015. Prior to filling these roles, he also served the University as a counselor and instructor/assistant professor of psychology, as assistant dean of students, and as interim dean of students.” - USM website

Dr. Holloway retired in 2019 but has returned to USM part time.

PHOTO: USM website

Jan 31, 2022

During the Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps gave young men jobs to help support their families. In this episode, Bidwell Barnes of Gulfport recalls joining the CCC and working to battle forest fires in South Mississippi. Shortly after his twenty-first birthday,

Bidwell Barnes was drafted into the army to fight in Europe. He describes the basic training required to become a medic for the 92nd Infantry Division. As an army medic during WWII, Bidwell Barnes was expected to give medical aid to friend and foe alike. He remembers how both sides would spread falsehoods about him and his fellow black soldiers.

After helping to defeat fascism in Europe, Bidwell Barnes returned to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He recounts feeling surprised at having to sit in the back of bus after serving his country.

Jan 24, 2022

Jewel Rushing grew up in Magnolia, Mississippi, during the Great Depression. In this episode, he remembers befriending the hobos who used to camp outside of town and discusses how growing up in that time of hardship inspired him to help others later in life.

In 1968, the Mayor of McComb asked Jewel Rushing to serve on the city’s public housing board. He recalls organizing a Boys and Girls Club chapter after watching poor kids playing in the streets. Rushing also served on the Board of Directors of the McComb Salvation Army for many years. He recounts how a generous donation by a retired railroad worker allowed them to keep their doors open.

During his lifetime, Rushing worked tirelessly as a community activist. He served on numerous boards including the Southwest Community College Board of Trustees, the McComb Housing Authority, the Salvation Army, and the United Way of Southwest Mississippi. He explains how growing up poor inspired him to try and help young people overcome their circumstances.

Jewel Rushing passed away on September 13, 2011, at the age of ninety.

PHOTO: http://bgcswms.com/

Jan 17, 2022

As the daughter of famed restauranteur Mary Mahoney, Eileen Mahoney Ezell grew up immersed in Biloxi history and tradition. In this episode, she recalls being asked to serve as Mardi Gras Queen Ixolib for 1976. For Ezell, serving as the Gulf Coast Carnival Queen was a whirlwind of festivities. She describes the Coronation Ball, parades, and other events that make Mardi Gras so special.

Mary Mahoney’s Old French House Restaurant opened for business in Biloxi on May 7, 1964. Ezell remembers her mother as real people person who loved the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Since 1908, Biloxi’s Mardi Gras has continue to grow and evolve into a world class celebration. In this interview recorded in 2004, Ezell discusses how the Gulf Coast Carnival Association works to ensure the future of the event while respecting traditions of the past.

PHOTO: allevents.in

Jan 10, 2022

Pro Football Hall of Fame Punter, Ray Guy, redefined the position for all who would follow. A tremendous athlete, Guy was as good a pitcher as he was a punter. After finishing high school in his hometown of Thomson, Georgia, he decided to come to Southern Miss to play football and baseball. Guy recalls why choosing a smaller school like USM was a “no-brainer.”

Although Guy could kick footballs great distances, he often chose height over yardage. He discusses the strategy behind his high, hanging kicks. During his years playing football with the Oakland Raiders, Guy shattered many NFL records. He explains why records are meaningless if the team doesn’t win.

Even though Ray Guy was first nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994, he was not inducted until the Class of 2014. In this interview, recorded shortly before the induction ceremony, he describes how his former coach John Madden would present him for enshrinement and the festivities to follow.

PHOTO: Famed Raiders Coach John Madden (L) and Ray Guy (R) the night of the enshrinement ceremony in 2014.

Jan 3, 2022

Claudette Romious grew up the Delta town of Alligator, Mississippi. In this episode, she discusses her father’s various business ventures including a garage, gas station, café, grocery store and juke joint. She also shares her memories of growing up as the daughter of a hardworking African-American entrepreneur.

The Rabbit Foot Minstrels tent show travelled the South entertaining both white and black audiences. Claudette Romious recalls sneaking into the adult-oriented burlesque show as a child.

As a teenager, Romious and her sisters worked in their father’s juke joint on the weekends. She describes learning how to handle drunk customers and not be afraid of confrontations.

When Romious’s father passed away in 1979, people called and came from all over the country to express their condolences. She remembers the diverse array of mourners and their stories of how her father had helped each of them to achieve their dreams.

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