On a chilly Thursday in Fondren outside an Airstream trailer, one of Mississippi’s most revered governors was in a story telling sort of mood.
After all, Governor William Winter, a Fondrenite, was to be one of the first to tell his story to StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs.
Soul singer Dorothy Moore may have beat him to the punch by a mere 15 minutes, having her story recorded first, but indeed, the governor’s celebrated history would make for a session just as memorable.
As StoryCorps officially kicked off their month-long session in Jackson yesterday, a group gathered on Duling Green was told it had been nearly eight years since StoryCorps had been here. Now back, thanks in part to the Mississippi Humanities Council, a traveling team of facilitators will put on their headphones and roll on audio recorders, capturing what Governor Winter describes as “a part of the foundation of celebrating our culture in Mississippi.”
“Our lives are richer when we have the opportunity to share stories about where we come from and learn to understand we are all one people,” the Governor said.
At 92, Winter, Mississippi’s senior statesman from 1980 to 1984, talked about the state’s great writers – Faulker, Welty and Alexander – who were, arguably, some of our greatest storytellers of all.Â And he recalled growing up on a farm in Grenada during the Great Depression and hearing his family’s tales.
But Governor Winter’s focus was not on his own legacy, but on our collective humanity and the way that storytelling binds us all. “Stories can be a unifying force that brings us together, eliminating the superficial that divides us,” he posited. “Let us understand our common humanity and that we are all members of one race, the human race. I hope, out of our own checkered past, we can show the rest of the country what a great society we have here in this state.”
Want to tell your story? Reservations are being accepted and can be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting storycorps.org.