Letter to a Young Scholar

Bruce, Mississippi is some three miles south of a hamlet in Calhoun County named Banner. In 1975, Tom Yancy, a junior in Bruce High School, wrote a paper on a novel by Eudora Welty and sent a letter to the author, who graciously responded.

 

Copycat KFC

I once knew a woman who claimed to know the Sanders Original Recipe of “11 herbs and spices” because she had worked in a franchise outlet in Grenada, Mississippi for three months while her husband was in the Grenada County lock-up for beating up a grease monkey who’d stolen a gun from the glove compartment of his car while it was in for an oil change. She didn’t really know the recipe, of course; her fried chicken tasted nothing like it, though perhaps it might have to her after her daily bottle of vodka.

It wasn’t until August 2016 that the recipe was made public when the Chicago Tribune reported that a nephew by marriage of Colonel Sanders, had claimed to have found a copy of the original KFC fried chicken recipe on a handwritten piece of paper in an envelope in a scrapbook. As journalists of fortitude and integrity, Tribune staffers verified the recipe before publication, and after “some trial and error” they decided the chicken should be soaked in buttermilk and coated once in the following breading mixture, then fried in oil at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown. With the addition of MSG (in an unspecified amount) they claimed the recipe produced fried chicken “indistinguishable” from fried chicken they had purchased at KFC.

11 Spices – Mix With 2 Cups White Flour

2/3 Ts (tablespoons) Salt
1/2 Ts Thyme
1/2 Ts Basil
1/3 Ts Oregano
1 Ts Celery salt
1 Ts Black pepper
1 Ts Dried mustard
4 Ts Paprika
2 Ts Garlic salt
1 Ts Ground ginger
3 Ts White pepper

The Sun Rekindles

To confirm that the Charter of Christ embraces the cycle of life, the early Church adopted observances of the solar calendar from many different cultures. The most significant of these are obvious–Easter and Christmas–; All Saints’ Day marks the mid-point between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, Lammas Day the mid-point between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox while May Day, which, like the summer solstice has no significant Christian observance, marks the middle of spring. February 2 falls between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, marking the middle of solar winter in the northern hemisphere, which Christians observe as Candlemas, celebrating the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, but most of us know it as Groundhog Day.

If like me you’re from the Deep South, groundhogs aren’t something you grew up with; there’s not even a gumbo recipe for them. They live as far south as Arkansas, most of Tennessee, north Alabama and Georgia as well, but almost nowhere in Mississippi except up around Southaven, where they’re more likely to end up barbecued than gumbo-ed. Groundhogs have a reputation of testing the weather on mid-winter day to see if they need to just barge on the couch and munch on cookies for a while longer or lose 10 pounds, buy a new bathing suit and clean out the pool. Groundhog Day is fun and quirky, but shadow or no, I’m not putting out any tomatoes until Good Friday.

 

Desegregation at Millsaps College

Dr. Benjamin Graves inherited the wind when he became the seventh president of Millsaps College in 1965, for soon the College became embroiled in the racial tumults of the decade.

Graves, a native of Jones County, graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1942. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard and a PhD. from LSU. He was an associate professor at the University of Virginia, taught at LSU and before coming to Millsaps. When Graves arrived at the College In February 1965, over two years had passed since the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 required colleges in the U.S. to integrate in order to receive federal funding. Graves agonized over the acceptance of the presidency; he was well aware that his predecessor President Homer Ellis Finger Jr., had been subjected to criticism from hard-line segregationists for his moderate views, but Graves took the helm immediately and firmly in hand.

At a meeting of the Millsaps College Board of Trustees that month, it was unanimously decided by the governing body to consider all qualified applicants for enrollment at the College. This news made headlines: Millsaps had become the first institution of higher learning in the Mississippi to voluntarily lower its racial barriers. According to the statement issued by the Board of Trustees, the College stood to lose approximately $200,000 if it did not comply with the Civil Rights Act. The statement also stressed that there would be no relaxation of scholastic qualifications, and said that the college would oppose the efforts of any extremist persons or groups “to use the campus, its facilities, its faculty or its students as vehicles for activities unrelated or detrimental to the educational purpose of the College.”

Nonetheless, Graves faced quite a challenge. Though the Board had made its position clear, it was up to Graves to convince supporters and alumni of the College that this transition was implemented to move Millsaps forward as a superior institution of higher learning. Immediately after the Board’s announcement, he mailed a copy of the Board’s statement with a personal letter to the alumni. “Unless we can continue to receive your support as alumni, the support of the Methodist Church and our other friends, this institution could sink into oblivion. On the other hand, if we make a successful adjustment, which we believe is going to be relatively easy, we can make this college one of the finest liberal arts institutions in the United States.”

Although some faculty and Board members felt that the loss of federal funds was the motivating factor in the Board’s decision, The Millsaps Associates, countless alumni and both conferences of the Methodist Church in Mississippi gave Millsaps their support in view of the morality behind desegregation. On June 8, 1965, Millsaps formally enrolled its first black student, a college graduate attending summer school in a specialized field.