This past weekend, my three children and I visited my native state of Mississippi for a family reunion. While walking around the Square in my hometown of Oxford, we came across this print below of well known people that are from Mississippi.
It is quite a list. Jimmy Buffett. Elvis Presley. Oprah Winfrey. Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears. All from Mississippi. This week I wanted to share the back story of some of them and a memorable quote from some to inspire you.
Author John Grisham got his undergrad in accounting at Mississippi State and law degree at Ole Miss. Squeezing in time to write during his lawyer days, he now has over over 245 million copies of his books, mostly legal thrillers, in print.
In the early 90’s, when his success was taking off, I called his publicist and asked to do a phone interview with him for one of my motivational articles. Within five minutes I got a call back and it was Grisham. I have always remembered that…
“My mum was never too keen on TV, so we kids all went to the library and got books out. Right from the start, I loved the works of Mark Twain. Every time I read about Tom Sawyer, I’d go out and do something low-level naughty, just like him.” – John Grisham
Oprah Winfrey is from Kosciusko, Mississippi. Her alma mater, Kosciusko High School, is who knocked me and my Lafayette High basketball team out of the State Tournament my senior year. If I ever see her I will be sure to give her grief over that matter.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
The great actor Morgan Freeman grew up in Charleston, Mississippi. On one of the group travel trips I host, he graciously spoke to the group (photo below) at a restaurant he used to co-own in Clarksdale, MS. He ended his talk with this: “We have a saying down here in Mississippi. ‘Ya’ll come back, you hear?'”
“I always tell my kids if you lay down, people will step over you. But if you keep scrambling, if you keep going, someone will always, always give you a hand. Always. But you gotta keep dancing, you gotta keep your feet moving.” – Morgan Freeman
Retired football star Jerry Rice grew up in Crawford, Mississippi and was a standout wide receiver for tiny Mississippi Valley State University. He became the greatest wide receiver in the history of football as a star with the San Francisco. Determined to be the best ever, I once heard him say he did not take one vacation during his first ten years in the NFL. One of the reasons his hands became so good at catching the ball was that he was the son of a brick layer. Growing up, he would catch bricks that needed to get high up in houses.
“The Enemy of the best is the good. If you’re always settling with what’s good, you’ll never be the best.” – Jerry Rice
Singer Faith Hill is from Ridgeland, Mississippi and grew up as an adopted child. Attending an Elvis Presley concert when she was nine made a big impact on her future dreams.
“I think beauty comes from within. If you’re happy and look at life in the best way you can, even when there are problems, it can make you beautiful on the outside.” – Faith Hill
While in my hometown of Oxford, my kids and I visited Rowan Oak, the home of writer William Faulkner.
Faulkner, who died in 1962, was one of America’s greatest writers, arguably literary history’s most examined and studied author after Shakespeare.
I have always been inspired by this part of the speech he gave when he received the Nobel Prize in Stockholm, December 10, 1950
“I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.
I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.” – William Faulkner
Tammy Wynette, the First Lady of Country Music, is from Bounds, Mississippi. Her dad died of a brain tumor when she was nine months old. She taught herself to play the musical instruments left to her by her dad, and was raised by relatives.
“I had a great childhood, but I thought it was horrible at the time. I was born and raised on a farm in Mississippi. I baled hay, culled corn, did about everything to do on a farm. It was a great childhood. Very simple. I wish my children could see more of the way that I was raised. They never will, but I wish they could.” – Tammy Wynette
Elvis is from Tupelo, Mississippi. He is the only artist ever go to in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and The Rythem and Blues Hall of Fame.
“Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them.” – Elvis Presley
Jimmy Buffett is from Pascagoula, Mississippi. When it comes to attitude, he sums it up nicely.
“It takes no more time to see the good side of life than it takes to see the bad.” – Jimmy Buffett
While Mississippi has produced more than its’ fair share of accomplished and well know people, while at the reunion I also took time to treasure the ‘regular folks’ that have come from the state, like my Aunt Betty Sue and Uncle Everett below.
They have been married 65 years!
Now, that’s commitment!
Charlie Adams is an Oxford native, graduate of Lafayette High School and a member of the Ole Miss Class of 1985. Adams is the author of 4 books on positive attitude and peak performance, including 2013′s “How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing!!” and “Stoke the Fire Within.” His books and motivational keynotes and seminars are designed to make sure events reach their objectives and to help create winning cultures. Email him at:Charlie@stokethefirewithin.com.