By River Childers
I was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, and have never lived anywhere else until I went to college at the University of Mississippi in beautiful Oxford.
I never vacationed to Mississippi until I was 15 years old when I went to Natchez for my cousin’s wedding, and my second time vacationing here was when I was 17. I went to Biloxi for a deep sea fishing charter, where we caught mostly redfish and black tip sharks.
Growing up, I always thought Mississippi was a boring state with nothing in it. The town of Jackson is a nice size, but I never saw a reason to drive three hours to visit the city.
The only time Mississippi was ever really talked about was when my dad went deep sea fishing in Biloxi. He had been there multiple times and talked about how great the fishing was, how the town is on the coast, and it’s a fun place to visit and experience the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Overall, I thought Mississippi was a very boring state that had little to do. I had no motivation, no reason to visit, and especially no reason to live there.
It wasn’t until I was 18, visited Oxford and decided to attend the University of Mississippi that I really saw what Mississippi is.
Prior to visiting Oxford, I had never driven through the majority of Mississippi. Now that I live in the state, I love it and love the state’s beautiful scenery and small towns.
Although I feel this way about the state now, many of the people I know have a different idea about Mississippi. Most think exactly what I thought before living in the state. “It is the worst state in the United States that has nothing but rednecks living in it, and is racist with many controversies surrounding it, and I would never want to step foot in the state unless I had to.”
Being from Louisiana, another state viewed as an unsuccessful place, I can relate to Mississippi residents to a certain extent. The only thing people give Louisiana attention about is the city of New Orleans, but I grew up in a city five hours from New Orleans and have only visited the city a few times in my life.
Louisiana has a lot of small towns like Mississippi, and people assume we are dumb because our education is second to last and not far from being last with Mississippi. I have been told that Louisiana, like Mississippi, has the worst interstate roads, and people really dislike going through the state because there is nothing to view except swamps and woods.
The biggest negative thoughts Mississippi receives is from the media. Most of the media think Mississippi is nothing except a state where the KKK is still present and racism is full in force. They think it’s the state that has highest obesity rate, a city with the highest STD rate, and a state last in education, making the media not take the state seriously.
I think the media is right about some things the state needs to change, but they are wrong about a lot as well. Mississippians are some of the friendliest I have ever met. They make you feel at home and glad you are in the state.
I am willing to bet that people who make untruthful comments have probably never visited the state and have never given the place a chance. I was also guilty of this. Mississippi should come up with reasons for people to come to the state, see its wonderful scenery, meet the state’s people and see what a great state it really is.
The name of my campaign is The New ‘Sip in Mississippi. The campaign’s logo will be the state of Mississippi with a navy blue background, and the state of Mississippi will be in white. Inside the state in maroon is “The ‘Sip in Mississippi.”
The colors represent the two major universities in the state, the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University. The purpose is to help education in the state, since it has been last a number of years.
When I asked people their thoughts about the state, most people said it’s considered the dumbest state in the country. I would first write a news story about education in the state. The story would involve statistics about schools across the state, such as the graduation rate, average standardized testing scores, and how many students attend college after high school.
Using social media, I would create Instagram pages featuring the emblem of the campaign and state education statistics. I would advocate for different counties to let me speak to the superintendent of the county, principals and other decision-makers to hear my campaign and get their thoughts.
I would create a website and ask for donations to help fund schools with better technology, to help students learn, to increase teacher pay so quality teachers would consider coming to Mississippi to teach, and create better school facilities that need upgrading.
After explaining to people the campaign ideas, I received good feedback. Many said it would be difficult to achieve because it would take a lot of money to enhance all state schools
I understand it may be a slower process, but it is a process that must be attempted because education is what fuels the young kids and the next generation to be successful in life
Throughout this project, I have learned that Mississippi is rich in scenery and culture, but lacks education. It is important that students receive the best education possible so that the students in Mississippi can be respected by people in other states and given the same chances as others.