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The Measure of Our Days

The Measure of Our Days: Writings of William F. Winter

Copyright Date: 2006
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    The Measure of Our Days
    Book Description:

    Governor William F. Winter has enriched the political and cultural life of Mississippi and the United States for over five decades--as an infantryman in World War II, as a Mississippi House representative (1947-1959), as governor of Mississippi (1980-1984), as a member of President Bill Clinton's Advisory Board on Race (1997-1998), and as an advocate for education and racial reconciliation.

    Unlike most public figures, Winter wrote all of his own speeches.The Measure of Our Days: Writings of William F. Winterpresents a collection of the governor's most thoughtful writings on his home state, the South, and America in general. A sampling of his ideas from the early 1960s to the present, the volume attests to his progressive political and moral philosophy. Collected, they reveal Winter's keen intellect, quiet wit, and stubborn political courage. The book includes an introduction by editor Andrew P. Mullins, Jr., that places Winter in a historical context and gives a brief biography of the politician.

    Winter is perhaps best known for his leadership in passing the 1982 Mississippi Education Reform Act which, among other things, established public kindergartens in the state. Throughout his long career, Winter has given speeches on a broad range of subjects--race, religion, education, book banning, community building, civil liberties, urban and agricultural development, family, literature, environmental conservation, and history--that testify to the diversity of his interests and his continuing engagement with American affairs.

    William F. Winter practices law in the firm of Watkins, Ludlam, Winter, and Stennis in Jackson, Mississippi. Andrew P. Mullins, Jr., is executive assistant to the chancellor of the University of Mississippi.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-141-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
    (pp. XIII-2)

    William Forrest Winter was born on February 21, 1923, in the small town of Grenada roughly ten miles from his family’s farm in Grenada County, Mississippi. His great-grandfather, William Hooe Winter, Jr., migrated to Mississippi from Charles County, Maryland, through Alabama to the Yalobusha River wilderness. This land had been ceded by the Choctaw Indians in the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

    His maternal great-grandfather, Ephraim S. Fisher, came to this same Mississippi frontier from Kentucky where at Centre College he had received a law degree. The Fisher and Winter farms adjoined along the Yalobusha River. Fisher had a successful...

    (pp. 3-22)

    The processes of democracy will work only as they reflect a degree of self-restraint on the part of the citizenry. This was the dream that Jefferson had—that in spite of the skeptics, human beings were indeed capable of governing themselves. This has been a noble experiment, but the experiment has not yet been concluded. It is still up to us to prove that there are enough people who will temper their own desires and demands with a concern for the public good.

    I am not certain that after almost two centuries this revolutionary concept of self-government can or will...

    (pp. 23-48)

    Men who have made great contributions . . . by their ability to bring issues to workable solutions . . . these were not grim, narrow-minded fanatics insistent on every letter of their position as if it were providentially inspired. These rather were reasonable men, conscious that they did not have all the answers and willing to concede to others the possibility that they, too, might be at least partially right. For it can be only on this basis that compromise can be entertained.

    So in this somewhat less than perfect world in which we find ourselves living let us...

    (pp. 49-72)

    Among my earliest remembrances of the positive influences and experiences which attracted me to the legal profession were those associated with some of those judges who as a schoolboy I had the opportunity to observe as they came to my hometown of Grenada to hold terms of court. They were in my youthful imagining men of wisdom and vision and possessing power beyond my comprehending. Even though in those days they wore no robes and the courtroom in which they held forth was plain and unimpressive, they appeared to me as towering figures exemplifying my loftiest ideals of what our...

    (pp. 73-112)

    In a calmer, simpler time both the freewheeling sensation-seller and the timid time-server could represent the journalistic profession without doing damage to the body politic. Now, in our increasingly urbanized and diverse society where the very massiveness of information frustrates and confuses us all, we are totally dependent on the skill and integrity of a relatively small number of men and women to select and tell us what we shall know about the events of this world in which we live.

    The relevance of this is pointed up in the swirl of events around us in our own community at...

    (pp. 113-136)

    Money alone may not guarantee better schools, but we are not going to get better schools and better teachers without it. The truth of the matter is that for a long time we have been getting some rare bargains in so many of our teachers.

    —Television commentary, WJTV, Jackson, Mississippi, 1985.

    We can come up with all kinds of high-sounding programs, but good education and good schools are still measured by the quality of the teaching and the leadership of the school administration. The most creative and carefully planned curriculum is no good unless it is administered and taught by...

    (pp. 137-166)

    One of the questions that as governor I was asked over and over by people in other parts of the country and, for that matter, in other countries was, “What is Mississippi really like?” I found in my conversations that our state has a certain mystique that seems to set it apart even from the rest of the South. And for the most part it is no longer a negative perception. It is rather an innocent curiosity about a state that in spite of or maybe because of hardship and adversity has maintained a sense of place and family ties...

    (pp. 167-194)

    Two Souths . . . One is represented by the popular image of the modern Sunbelt—a region of burgeoning cities, high-wage, high-tech industry and the good life. This South embodies the bright fulfillment of long-held hopes and dreams—of the final coming together of those elements of destiny that would make this America’s promised land. In contrast there is another South—still largely rural, agrarian, undereducated, underproductive, and underemployed—where life remains for too many a continuing malaise of frustration and unfulfilled expectations. Unless we act with wisdom and dispatch, we shall condemn our region to a permanent pattern...

    (pp. 195-226)

    What enables us to cope more adequately with the death of friends and loved ones it seems to me lies in large measure in how well we have lived with them. It is in our living that we establish the measure of our dying. For most of us—maybe for all of us—the death of a friend or loved one is softened and made immeasurably more bearable by the recognition that our relationship has been free of the petty little envies and jealousies that in too many instances mar our lives and make more painful our dying.

    And I...

    (pp. 227-228)