University Composition shines light on the past with ‘Real Mississippi’ podcast

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Dr. Easterling’s University Composition class recently published their long-awaited podcasts.

Jordan Isbell , Staff Writer

With Mississippi being the stereotypical Southern state, it has been subjected to several viewpoints attempting to tell the general depiction of life in Mississippi. MSMS University Composition students decided to share their perspectives by creating a podcast titled “The Real Mississippi” that aims to accurately tell the state’s story.

The podcast allowed students to research significant people from their hometowns and discuss their effect on the town, whether positive or negative. This helped students strengthen the relationship between their own identity and where they’re from.

Dr. Thomas Easterling, an English teacher at MSMS, assigned the podcasts to his students and said he believed the project could help represent both themselves and the community of Mississippi. 

“My experience teaching during the pandemic brought me to this conclusion,” Easterling said. “More than ever before, students need to understand that their voices matter, that the research they do has real-world implications and that classroom experiences should strengthen their sense of community.”

Junior Arika Gardner, one of Easterling’s students, said her podcast tells a gripping story and important concept that needs to be shared to the public.

“[The podcast] signifies the sacrifices and pain endured for the struggle of unity,” Gardner said. “It signifies the hardships of a Black woman living in the South, rebelling against the mass majority that wanted to keep her people down in fields and used as overworked laborers.”

This podcast included a lot of dedicated research, and junior Chauncey Jordan said it was one of the defining challenges when creating the podcast.

“The biggest challenge would be the surplus of information,” Jordan said. “There were 133 journals alone, and that, plus all the articles, made it hard to keep it within the time limit to decide which information was needed.”

The podcasts came out with impressive results, unraveling topics such as imposter syndrome and memorializing unsung heroes such as Fannie Lou Hamer. Thanks to this project, Mississippians better understand the important figures who impacted its history and its future, all while debunking false stereotypes and narratives.  

William Faulkner allegedly told Willie Morris that if you want to understand the universe, you have to understand a place like Mississippi,” Easterling said. “Those words are truer now than ever.”