By Brandon Hancock
For 21 years, I have lived in Mississippi. Various parts of course, but always the same Mississippi. Having lived here so long, I have heard many people’s thoughts about the state.
For example, “This is the most boring place I’ve ever been. How can you live here?” or “Isn’t that place like super racist?” or my personal favorite, “I am not living somewhere that I can hardly spell.”
I’ll admit, I still say each individual letter of Mississippi as I type it out, but that’s no reason not to live here. Sure, we have a predominately negative history, but so do many Southern states.
I personally have not had any experiences that relate to Mississippi’s perception, but that doesn’t mean I’m blind to what has gone on around here, or how the media portrays us.
One thing our news stations seem to be great at is picking the most hillbilly redneck person on the scene and giving him an interview. You think we would learn after constantly going viral, but this is what many people envision when they think of Mississippi.
This is where they are wrong. Mississippi is not all backwoods, dirt roads, where cousins marry one another – it’s actually home to some of the best things this world has ever seen, and our country would not be the same without it.
As the new head marketing director for the State of Mississippi, I feel I have just the right idea. A video can pack a ton of emotion. Even without any words, a simple video can have the deepest of meanings, so that’s why I think the state needs its own commercial.
Not just any commercial though, but a video montage of everything great Mississippi has had to offer. I think it could even be done as a Coke commercial, because did you know that the first bottling of Coca-Cola was done in Mississippi?
In 1894, Coca-Cola was first bottled by Joseph A. Biedenharn in Vicksburg, Mississippi at what was then 218-220 Washington Street.
Did you know shoes were first sold in pairs in Mississippi? When shoes were invented, there was no such thing as left and right shoes. Shoes were just shoes, and shoemakers were like kids before they learned their left from their right.
Then a guy in Philadelphia (sadly not our Philadelphia in Neshoba, County, Mississippi, but that other one in Pennsylvania) came up with left and right shoes. The concept of selling shoes in boxes as pairs first occurred in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1884 at Phil Gilbert’s Shoe Parlor.
If you’re still not convinced, Mississippi is also home to the world’s first successful lung transplant. The year was 1963, and the team was led by Dr. James D. Hardy, professor of surgery and chair of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The same team would complete the first heart transplant, and first kidney transplant, paving the way for huge medical advancements.
Something else I seem to always hear is how Mississippi is #1 in all the wrong things like obesity, teen pregnancy, STD rate, etc. You know, what else we’ve had a lot of #1’s in? Music.
Mississippi has had a huge impact on the world of music, being the birthplace of both the blues and Elvis Presley along with many other musicians, such as Jimmy Buffett, Faith Hill, B.B. King, LeAnn Rimes, and Conway Twitty.
Mississippi is also home to other people, like writers William Faulkner, John Grisham, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, etc., and athletes like Brett Favre, Walter Payton and Jerry Rice..
That’s not all though. Famous actors, such as Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, and TV personality Oprah Winfrey are all from Mississippi.
A simple montage of all the things I just mentioned, along with other state accomplishments, would speak volumes about what the state has done for this country. With a nice background melody, the video would open with an interesting fact, and it would list several amazing things before revealing at the end that it is all linked to Mississippi.
What I learned about state perceptions is that everybody has their opinions about Mississippi, and although many correlate with one another, it doesn’t mean they are all true, or that the state can’t be redeemed.