NATIONAL MISSISSIPPI DAY
On November 30, National Mississippi Day recognizes the home of the Delta blues and the 20th state to join the union.
How did you learn to spell Mississippi? Was it the M-I crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback-I rhyme? Or did you keep track of the seconds by counting one Mississippi, two Mississippi? If you did, you’re not alone. Millions around the country recall doing this and other similar word associations with the name Mississippi!
The Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico along the western boundary of the state and derives its name from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi which means “Great River.”
It was along the Mississippi Delta that the blues developed in the middle to late 19th century. Within a few decades, blues music would slowly grow in many ways creating a crop of musicians and variety of new genres.
Both the American Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s were uncertain, turbulent and violent times for Mississippi. Even though the Civil War brought about freedom for enslaved people, that was more than half of Mississippi’s population and the economy had been ruined.
One of the most prolific features of the state is the Natchez Trace. In existence for thousands of years, this ancient pathway was beaten down by the hooves of bison. Hunting and gathering mound builders later used the path which became an ideal road for transporting goods. Today, it’s both a 444-mile scenic parkway and natural timeline through the history of three states (Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama).
There are many fun and fascinating tidbits about Mississippi to explore. For example, did you know while hunting in Sharkey County, President Roosevelt came upon a bear he refused to shoot which is how we came to have the teddy bear today.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Join National Day Calendar as we recognize Mississippi’s historic places and discover her untold stories. Listen to America’s music while traveling all the highways and byways on National Mississippi Day! Use #NationalMississippiDay to share on social media.
In 2017, National Day Calendar began celebrating each state in the order they entered the union starting the week of Independence Day and ending with Hawaii. We highlight a small part of each states’ history, foods and the people who make up the state. There’s so much more to explore!
For a complete list of Mississippi State and National Parks & Historic Sites visit mississippistateparks.reserveamerica.com and www.nps.gov. Check out a few of the featured sites around the state below. Mississippi State Parks
Clarkco State Park – Quitman
Golden Memorial State Park – Walnut Grove
LeFleur’s Bluff State Park – Jackson
Wall Doxy State Park – Holly Springs
Mississippi Museum of Art – Jackson
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum – Jackson
Delta Blues Museum – Clarksdale
Walter Anderson Museum of Art – Ocean Springs
Eudora Welty House – Jackson
Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum – Biloxi
INFINITY Science Museum – Pearlington
Chief Tishomingo - Chickasaw Chief -(1734 - abt 1841)
While there is little known about Chief Tishomingo’s life, what is known is that he was one of the last surviving full-blooded Chickasaw Chiefs. He also lived to be at least 100 years old. Chief Tishomingo allied with the U.S. fighting alongside U.S. military on more than one occasion until his people were removed from their land in Mississippi in the early 1830s.
Two counties, one in Mississippi and one in Oklahoma, two state parks, a town, organizations, and a beautiful bridge have been named in Chief Tishomingo’s honor.
Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield - Singer - (1834 - March 31 - 1876)
Known as the “Black Swan” and for her broad vocal range, Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield toured the U.S. and Europe sharing her voice in full concert halls. But before she entertained a Queen, she was first a slave and then a servant to her mistress.
Elizabeth Lee Hazen - Microbiologist - (August 24, 1885 - June 24, 1975)
Anyone who has suffered from a fungal infection can appreciate the work of Elizabeth Lee Hazen and Rachel Fuller Brown. Together, their discovery of a substance named fungicidin (later named nystatin) would become an effective treatment for a variety of fungal infections. From burn victims to itchy-footed athletes, the world rejoiced!
William Faulkner - Author - (September 25, 1897 - July 6, 1962)
The author of The Sound and the Fury (1929), Light in August (1932) and Requiem for a Nun (1951), William Faulkner earned a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. In 1955, Faulkner was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the novel A Fable (1954) and again in 1963 for The Reivers (1963).
Tennessee Williams - Playwright - (March 26, 1911 - February, 25, 1983)
Playwright Tennessee Williams created enduring characters who are a part of the American psyche still today.
Plays like The Glass Menagerie, A Street Named Desire, Baby Doll, and many others have been adapted to screen and earned him critics, celebrity and numerous awards including two Pulitzer Prizes.
Robert Johnson - Musician/Singer - (May 8, 1911 - August 16, 1938)
If the world were to place a pin where America’s music sprouted, many modern musicians would place the pin at Clarksdale Crossroads.
Legend has it that Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil there in exchange for his rare talent on the guitar. In his short life, the musician big cities and dirt road juke joints. His limited recordings have influenced modern artists of a variety of genres.
Medgar Evers - Activist - (July 2, 1925 - June 12, 1963)
World War II veteran and civil rights activist, Medgar Evers, is most noted for his efforts to desegregate the University of Mississippi. He was murdered by Byron De La Beckwith in 1963.
BB King - Musician/Singer - (September 16, 1925 - May 14, 2015)
With a career spanning more than five decades, B.B. King clearly ruled the world of the blues. Admired not only for his talent and performances but also his dedication to the art, King was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and into the Official Rhythm & Blues Musical Hall of Fame in 2014.
James Earl Jones - Actor - (January 17, 1931 - )
Stage and Silverscreen actor, James Earl Jones garners attention not only for his screen presence but for his resonant voice. His ever-growing list of credits includes The Great White Hope, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars series.
Elvis Presley - Singer/Actor - (January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977)
Influenced by pop, country, gospel and R&B music, Elvis Aaron Presley’s unique style attracted fans from around the world. He earned numerous awards across genres and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 as well as four others. In 2006, Graceland was declared a National Landmark and is open to the public for tours.
Jim Henson - Puppeteer - (September 24, 1936 - May 16, 1990)
Jim Henson created memorable characters such as Kermit the Frog, Oscar the Grouch and Fraggles, Skeksis and UrSkeks. Writer, producer, and visionary, Henson used new technology to take puppetry to new heights in films like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.
Oprah Winfrey - Talk Show Host/Actress - (January 29, 1954 -)
Oprah Winfrey started her career in broadcasting behind a mic on the radio. Fast forward and The Oprah Winfrey Show aired 25 successful seasons; the talk show host launched her own network, production company, stretched her acting muscles and became a billionaire.
Walter Payton - Professional Football Player - (July 25, 1954 - November 1, 1999)
Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton played 13 years in the NFL, breaking records and earning one Super Bowl Championship. Payton was known not only for his talent but also for his generosity. In 1993, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sarah (Bailey) Thomas - NFL Official - (1973 -)
In 2007, Sarah Thomas began making history becoming the first woman to officiate a major college football game. Over the next few years, she would become a woman of firsts. Then in 2015, Thomas became the first woman in history to become a permanent NFL official.