Through my job, I've had the priceless opportunity to be educated and to educate others about the great state in which I was born and have lived ever since. I'm proud to say I hail from the same state as Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Sundance producers, rough, tough and talented athletes, world-class chefs and gifted, yet often eccentric, artists. We are a state of extraordinary pride and unfathomable humility, of brilliant teachers and eager students and of unmatched givers. It's easy to be proud of a state like mine.
The home of the Viking Range and the Peavey guitar is one that I am thrilled to call my own and share with others. Having the chance to change the opinions of some of the dissenters of Mississippi and of the South is one of the most shining facets of each job I've had. You all know how much I love the jack-of-all-trades orator, writer and fellow Mississippian Chef Robert St. John, and here is his "essay that started it all," composed to be a clear example of what being a Southerner really means. I agree with every word.
I am always amused by Hollywood’s interpretation of the South. We are still, on occasion, depicted as a collective group of sweaty, stupid, backwards-minded and racist rednecks. The South of movies and TV, the Hollywood South, is not my South.
My South is full of honest, hard-working people.
My South is colorblind. In my South, we don’t put a premium on pigment. No one cares
whether you are black, white, red or green with orange polka dots.
My South is the birthplace of blues and jazz, and rock-and-roll. It has banjo pickers and fiddle players, but it is also has B.B. King, Muddy Waters, the Allman Brothers, Emmylou Harris and Elvis.
My South is hot.
My South smells of newly mown grass.
My South was the South of The Partridge Family, Hawaii 5-0 and kick the can.
My South was creek swimming, cane-pole fishing and bird hunting.
In my South, football is king, and the Southeastern Conference is the kingdom.
My South is home to the most beautiful women on the planet.
In my South, soul food and country cooking are the same thing.
My South is full of fig preserves, cornbread, butter beans, fried chicken, grits and catfish.
In my South we eat foie gras, caviar and truffles.
In my South, our transistor radios introduced us to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones at the same time they were introduced to the rest of the country.
In my South, grandmothers cook a big lunch every Sunday.
In my South, family matters, deeply.
My South is boiled shrimp, blackberry cobbler, peach ice cream, banana pudding and oatmeal cream pies.
In my South people put peanuts in bottles of Coca Cola and hot sauce on almost everything.
In my South the tea is iced, and almost as sweet as the women.
My South has air-conditioning.
My South is camellias, azaleas, wisteria and hydrangeas.
My South is humid.
In my South, the only person that has to sit on the back of the bus is the last person that got on the bus.
In my South, people still say “yes, ma’am”, “no, ma’am”, “please” and “thank you.”
In my South, we all wear shoes… most of the time.
My south is the best-kept secret in the country. Keep the secret… it keeps the jerks out.