By Ronnie Agnew
Maybe we ought to hold a big pep rally. Ask the cheerleaders from our universities to lead the charge. Get Gov. Haley Barbour to recite that “we hitched up our britches” line he’s used so many times to describe the Mississippi work ethic after Hurricane Katrina.
We could get Jackson State’s Sonic Boom of the South to pump us up and get us fired up about ourselves. Maybe we could invite the local people who have “done good” and have them lead our rally.
This thing could be big. If we do it right, we might attract some of the people who’ve put foot in mouth insulting us before being forced to say, “I’m sorry.” We could put Charlie Rangel out front and have the Democratic congressman from New York apologize again for his “Who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?” line.
Planning could make this one whale of a pep rally. We could show our state pride and send a message to the rest of the country that we’re kinda getting tired of being the national poster child for everything bad.
Actually, the public relations part of my little rant is already in motion and is bringing the state more national attention, some of it tongue-in-cheek, some of it serious. It’s formally called “The Mississippi Believe It” campaign and it must be hitting its mark in parts of the country.
It’s intended to show Mississippi in a positive light, breaking down all the national stereotypes with in-your-face evidence that we’ve got more than you folks around the country think. Just look at our writers, from Miss Eudora to Uncle Willie, who we all know left us too soon. Don’t forget our athletes, who have rewritten the record books in just about every sport.
The campaign is at least a year old, but I thought it more than coincidental when friends from around the country started calling and e-mailing recently to tell me that they’d seen posters and other PR material that made them believe.
Left me scratching my head for a minute until I surmised that the misinformed Rangel might have breathed new life into the campaign with his oh-so-awful summation of everything most of us believe in.
Proud of my roots
That’s where I am with this thing. I was born in Mississippi. Raised in some of the toughest conditions any family could stand. Watched my daddy darn-near break his back putting his kids through college on wages that would have some of Rangel’s New York friends doubled over in laughter.
I know all about Mississippi’s superstars, but I guess I really don’t need a list – or a pep rally for that matter – to
make me proud of my roots. As much as I support any campaign that touts Mississippi, I’ve reached the point where I’m tired of having to.
There are no better people, no better communities, no smarter business people than what we see right here every day. If anything, we take each other for granted, not stopping long enough to appreciate the greatness that many Mississippians have.
In Mississippi, we say “hello” when we pass a stranger on the street. We give everyone the benefit of the doubt of being good citizens because that’s what we’re taught from birth.
We’re not a perfect state by a long shot. Still got bigots, black and white, just like they do in Rangel’s New York.
We’ve still got way too much poverty and far too many people walking around without adequate education or
health care, all related to point No. 1.
Search deeply enough in every “perfect state” and you’ll find stuff on those places, too. So re-launch with great vitality this “I believe” campaign. This is one guy who already does.
Contact Executive Editor Ronnie Agnew at (601) 961-7175 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ronnie Agnew – OP-ED
By Ronnie Agnew