The famous people of Mississippi – part 2

The State has also inspired many creative people to write. On one of the best-selling authors in the last decade has been John Grisham.

John Grisham the best-selling novelist

Although Grisham was born in Arkansas from the age of four his family moved to Southaven and he later attended both Mississippi State University and the University of the Mississippi School of Law after which he practiced law for about a decade. After 6 years serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives he decided to write crime novels. Many of the novels have been based in Mississippi and his best-selling book. The Firm, has sold more than 7 million copies and was turned into a film in 1993 with Tom Cruise playing the lead part. It is interesting that Grisham has created a town called Clanton in Mississippi where the novels take place. Many of the stories are based around people being divided by racism and reflects on the popular image that the State is still trying desperately to separate itself from. Another famous writer Tennessee Williams also hailed from the State. Born in Columbus Mississippi in 1911 Williams is seen as one of the most famous American playwrights of the 20th century with his biggest sellers including “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.He had a difficult upbringing suffering from diphtheria which almost killed him and his difficult times were recorded in his play “The Glass Menagerie” which was widely thought to be the history of his early years. Success did not come easy and it wasn’t until 1944 that he was accepted as a great writer.

Morgan Freeman won an Oscar for best supporting actor in Million Dollar Baby

Morgan Freeman won an Oscar for best supporting actor in Million Dollar Baby

One of the most famous Tennessee faces to have appeared on stage has been Morgan Freeman. Born in Memphis, Freeman spent much of his childhood in Charleston Mississippi and he still owns a house there today. He has had a stellar career being nominated for the Oscar best actor award on 5 occasions and also for the Golden Globe Award nominee on the same number of occasions. In 1989 won the Golden Globe for best actor for his role in “Driving Miss Daisy” and in 2004 he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in “Million Dollar Baby”. He has been in so many big films that he is ranked 4th highest box office star with his movies grossing 4.316 billion US dollars in sales. The only surprise is that not one of his nominations for best actor has not materialized into a winning Oscar. There are few bigger names on American Television than Oprah Winfrey. Born in Kosciusko Mississippi in 1954 the chat show star and actress is now worth an estimated 3 billion US dollars. She is the richest African-American in the country.

She was born into poverty and raised only by her mother. When she was 14 she lost a son during pregnancy and she didn’t get a career break until she landed a job on radio when she was 19. From this point her career blossomed as she revolutionized the tabloid talk show. Her shows became infamous for the levels of audience participation. One of the most famous activists in the fight against racism in the State has been James Meredith. Born in Kosciusko in 1933 Meredith had spent 9 years in the United States Air Force when he applied to study at the all-white Mississippi University. Initially offered a place, it was then withdrawn when the registrar discovered his race. He then took the matter to the U.S Supreme Court who voted in his favor. When he turned up to register on the 20th September 1962 the entrance was blocked. A riot ensued and was later quelled by US marshals and troops from the Mississippi National Guard.

He later graduated with a degree in political science, but controversy followed him and in 1966 he was shot while out on a protest march to encourage black voters. Meredith survived and is still fighting the cause today.

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