Virginia Thomas of the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center in Columbus pulls a copy of “Mississippians” from the shelves of the Welcome Center’s book shop. These copies carry a message from the Columbus Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, plus local photographs, on their limited edition book jackets.
Photo by: Luisa Porter
December 17, 2011 10:03:00 PM
The Columbus Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau has added "Mississippians" to its growing book offerings available at the Tennessee Williams Home Welcome Center and Museum at 300 Main St.
Throughout 416 full-color pages, the famous, notable and extraordinary individuals who have strong ties to the Magnolia State are profiled. A specially-printed limited edition book jacket for these copies includes a message about Columbus from Nancy Carpenter, executive director of the CVB, and photographs of local landmarks.
"We in Columbus are so proud of our home state: Mississippi has more Pulitzer Prize-winning writers per capita than any other sate in the United States," Carpenter points out. "The same goes for NFL football players."
The high number of notable Mississippians featured in The Nautilus Publishing Co. collection is impressive -- an eye-opener for anyone realizing for the first time how many household names called Mississippi home along the way.
There are iconic writers: Columbus' own Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and John Grisham. Giants of music: Elvis Presley, Jimmie Rodgers, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffett, Bo Diddley and opera great Leontyne Price.
When it comes to movie and television luminaries, many know James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman and Oprah Winfrey have roots here, but may be surprised to learn Dana Andrews, Stella Stevens, Kate Jackson of "Charlie's Angels," and Ray Walston of "My Favorite Martian" do, too.
The world of sports might thank Mississippi for stand-outs like Lowndes County's Jerry Rice, Columbus' World Champion boxer Henry Armstrong, Brett Favre, Walter Payton, Dizzy Dean and Archie Manning.
Then, there are the visual artists, like Walter Anderson and George Ohr. Pioneers such as Jim Henson of Muppet fame, Federal Express founder Fred Smith, MTV founder Bob Pittman and Hartley Peavey of Peavey Electronics. The lists go on.
"I love to encounter strangers who know little of our state -- especially those who believe the oversimplified, often sensationalized, reports about Mississippi," writes the book's editor, Neil White, in the forward. "Nothing is quite as gratifying as rattling off a list of accomplished Mississippians."
Carpenter adds, "'Mississippians' is a celebration of the great people of our state -- and Columbus is an integral part of what makes Mississippi exceptional."
The large coffee table book filled with quality photography sells for $40 at the Welcome Center, which is open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday noon-5 p.m.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.