Tuesday, March 28, 2017
I had the privilege of meeting him one afternoon when I lived in Jackson. It's no secret that I'm a news-junkie and I'd read dozens of his columns. He was in the grocery store and I recognized him, but debated whether or not to bother him. Turns out it was no bother. He was happy to talk and talk we did.
We spoke for almost half an hour in the aisle of the Winn-Dixie. As shoppers passed around us, he told me stories of governors and politicians, Civil Rights protests and newsroom politics. It was a joy.
A couple years later I saw a story about his birthday and sent him a letter wishing him a belated happy birthday and hoping he was well. About a week later he called me to thank me for the letter. This time we had an even longer conversation about his career and his mother, what he thought of our current state leadership, and education. It was amazing. I even jotted notes about it in my copy of Eyes on Mississippi.
Bill was not shy about sharing his opinion which could be politely described as "progressive." He was a much needed voice for liberal ideas and political dissent in a state where both are rare and often derided.
I am so grateful that I got to speak with such a legend. His career was a gift to all of us. His talent and tenacity were inspiring and spoke to the core of what it means to be a "newsman." There will never be another, but hopefully there will be many who try because of the example he set.
Rest In Peace, Bill. You will be missed.
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