PHILLIPS

Starkville Daily News - - FO­RUM -

over­look the con­tri­bu­tion to academia from state in­sti­tu­tions like MSU and in­no­va­tive work­force de­vel­op­ment ed­u­ca­tion from places like East Mis­sis­sippi Com­mu­nity Col­lege?

It seems like MSU is pi­o­neer­ing some­thing new ev­ery week and I would know, be­cause we have to write about it.

EMCC also seems miles ahead of other in­sti­tu­tions in how it con­tin­u­ally finds new ways to marry for­mal ed­u­ca­tion with professional de­vel­op­ment for lo­cal busi­nesses.

At­ten­dees also got to hear the story of the Ulysses S. Grant Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary on the MSU cam­pus. It's a distinc­tion only Starkville, Mis­sis­sippi can claim and one that will help to change the per­cep­tion of academia in the state for years to come. Schol­ars will come from all around to visit the li­brary and the Lin­coln col­lec­tion, and there's no telling what else they may stay and do, just be­cause Mis­sis­sippi lured them here.

In ath­let­ics, Mis­sis­sippi may not be next in line to host the Su­per Bowl, but in the Golden Tri­an­gle alone, we have a SEC in­sti­tu­tion whose teams con­sis­tently play on na­tional tele­vi­sion and a wildly-suc­cess­ful ju­nior col­lege foot­ball pro­gram turned into the sub­ject of a Net­flix se­ries.

These sto­ries, told by the per­son­al­i­ties that lived them, un­der­score the grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion of the peo­ple that live here.

A com­mon thread speaks to me from all of these sto­ries, which is the hu­mil­ity and will­ing­ness to be over­looked at times, but a tenac­ity to do some­thing about it. That's Mis­sis­sippi.

The ath­letic ac­com­plish­ments at Mis­sis­sippi State and EMCC are uniquely south­ern in what they are do­ing for the state. It's show­ing Mis­sis­sippi is a com­peti­tor.

I know it is just a game, but in 50 years, who are we more likely to re­mem­ber: a foot­ball coach that won a hand­ful of na­tional cham­pi­onship rings or a politi­cian who said some­thing ap­palling?

In my home state of Alabama, the legacy

of Bear Bryant out­lasted many-a volatile pol­i­cy­maker. I'm not say­ing ath­let­ics is the most im­por­tant thing, but one can't deny how our iden­ti­ties are shaped by it and what it does for our own per­sonal nar­ra­tives.

We have an ocean of sto­ries to tell in Mis­sis­sippi, but those voices can eas­ily be taken for granted in a world where news moves so fast. It is im­por­tant we turn in­ward and look to build up our suc­cesses, in­stead of la­bor­ing un­der the false nar­ra­tive that the rest of the world is pass­ing us by.

The state's iden­tity has evolved into an even more com­plex form and we must work now to take con­trol of our own nar­ra­tive, with the hope that we will thrive in our own south­ern way and broad­cast to the world that Mis­sis­sippi is ready for the fu­ture.

Ryan Phillips is the ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor of the Starkville Daily News. The views ex­pressed in this col­umn are his and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the opin­ions of the news­pa­per or its staff.

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