For more than six decades, William F. Winter (b. 1923) has been
one of the most recognizable public figures in Mississippi. His
political career spanned the 1940s through the early 1980s, from
his initial foray into Mississippi politics as James Eastland's
driver during his 1942 campaign for the United States Senate, as
state legislator, as state tax collector, as state treasurer, and
as lieutenant governor. Winter served as governor of the state of
Mississippi from 1980 to 1984.
A voice of reason and compromise during the tumultuous civil
rights battles, Winter represented the earliest embodiment of the
white moderate politicians who emerged throughout the "New South."
His leadership played a pivotal role in ushering in the New
Mississippi: a society that moved beyond the racial caste system
that had defined life in the state for almost a century after
emancipation. In many ways, Winter's story over nine decades is
also the story of the evolution of Mississippi in the second half
of the twentieth century.
Winter has remained active in public life since retiring from
politics following an unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign against
Thad Cochran in 1984. During the last twenty-five years, Winter has
worked with a variety of organizations to champion issues that have
always been central to his vision of how to advance the interests
of his native state and the South as a whole. Improving the
economy, upgrading the educational system, and facilitating racial
reconciliation are goals he has pursued with passion. The first
biography of this pivotal figure, William F. Winter and the New
Mississippi traces his life and influences from boyhood days
in Grenada County, through his service in World War II, and through
his long career serving Mississippi.
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