In a state often marred by negative outside opinions, Dr. David Sansing stands as a voice of reverence and clarity hoping to educate his audience about the full story of Mississippi’s contentious history.
At Off Square Books on Tuesday evening, Sansing discussed several of the topics and people that will appear in his latest book, “The Other Mississippi: A State in Conflict With Itself”.
A captivating speaker, Sansing held the room in silence as he first discussed the perception of Mississippi to outsiders.
“Things take time in Mississippi,” Sansing remarked.
Although his new book is about the unknown positive sides of Mississippi’s history, the professor is not one to dismiss the ugly face of the state that has reared it’s head in the past.
“Dr. Sansing of course has been here for a long time and is a very well respected and beloved member of the community,” said Off Square Books General Manager, Lyn Roberts. “I think the history of Mississippi is so fascinating and he brings out little known facts and makes it lively and more interesting.”
The professor drew a large, lively crowd to the event, that was eager to learn about their state.
“He does very thorough research,” said local Oxford resident, James Webb Jr. “It’s very good and interesting. He uses subjects that someone like me who grew up here, was barely familiar with all of these things.”
Among the little known facts that Sansing brings about in his new book is the belief that Mississippi politician, L.Q.C. Lamar, would have been elected President of the United States had he not been held back by the fact that he was born in the south.
The south has always carried traditions that are perceived as less than progressive above the Mason-Dixon line. However, it has been making small strides forward further back than some may think.
One of the most relevant people of interest in Sansing’s new book is a man known as “Blind” Jim Ivy. Ivy was a peanut vendor on Ole Miss’ campus for most of his life and was a treasured member of the Oxford community until his death in 1955. It has been speculated that Ivy, a black man, was the original inspiration for the former mascot of the university, “Colonel Reb”.
Along with the hidden facts of Mississippi, Sansing also talks about the rich literary history that has always been a part of Oxford and the state. Faulkner and Grisham are in the new book, but Sansing will also be writing about Richard Wright, Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty.
It is no secret that Mississippi has plenty of ghosts in its past, but it may be a secret to some that there have been so many beautiful cultural traditions and people to come out of the Magnolia State.
Sansing’s lifelong dedication to educating the public on the storied history of Mississippi is a gift that will have a lasting impact on those who decide to pick up any of his books.