When Willie Morris returned to Mississippi late in the 20th century, the old magnolia state seemed poised to move away from its rancid racist past to a new era of tolerance and prosperity.
Now 19 years after Willie's death, Mississippi is deciding whether to advance toward his gleaming vision for his native state. In the last midterm battle between the repressive GOP and diverse Democratic Party, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith seeks to hold on to her seat as a Donald Trump puppet in an unexpectedly close race against former U.S. Rep. and presidential cabinet member Mike Espy.
Hyde-Smith has crippled her own campaign with a series of gaffes, the worst a "public hanging" reference that evoked the state's lynch-mob history.
Despite her horrible campaign, I doubt that Espy can overcome the state's engrained white supremacy and pull off an upset.
But I have hope in remembering that Mississippi is the native state of Willie Morris. William Faulkner. Jesmyn Ward. Nastasha Tretheway. Richard Ford. Eudora Welty. Robert Johnson. Son House. Ellen Douglas. Elizabeth Spencer. Jimmie Rogers. Oprah Winfrey.