Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sid Salter: Sansing Pushed Mississippi Forward

The death of retired University of Mississippi historian Dr. David Sansing is an event that should give all Mississippians pause, for we have lost one of the great, important voices urging our state to move forward.


One of the most difficult things for native Mississippians to do is to see Mississippi – warts and all – for what it is while maintaining fervent hopes and aspirations for what our state can ultimately become. Dr. Sansing possessed that dual vision to perhaps a greater depth than anyone I’ve known.

He was a prolific scholar and author, a compassionate yet demanding teacher, a reliable and generous friend, and a man who at his core had a warm and encouraging demeanor. He saw, acknowledged and confronted the worst in human nature, but he strived to encourage those individuals to become the best they could be.

I met David in the early 1980s through the late writer Willie Morris while he was writing “The Courting of Marcus Dupree” over drinks at Clyde Goolsby’s bar at the old Holiday Inn. My friend Gale Denley was there along with others in Willie’s circle.

Later, at Willie’s Faculty Row bungalow, David engaged Willie in long and interesting conversations about Mississippi’s past, present and future. I thoroughly loved to sit and listen to their exchanges. The budding friendship with David Sansing brought me into contact with other friends of Willie including Charles Henry, Ed Perry, Glynn Griffing, Richard Howorth and Will Lewis.

Sansing could at once dispense biting social commentary on Mississippi’s sins in the arena of civil rights, income and resource disparities, and political stances taken against one’s own economic interests, but he never did that in a mean or condescending way. His love for his home state never wavered or waned.

During my days teaching at Ole Miss in the 1990s, I looked forward to encounters with Dr. Sansing in Oxford. He was always encouraging to me about my own writing and we enjoyed talking politics. He was a gentle, intelligent man with a wonderful sense of humor.

But over the last 20 years, our most reliable interactions would be at the Neshoba County Fair. He and then-Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones would come by the cabin and we would renew our conversations as if there had been no absence.

In 2012, Sansing and Jones spent much of their fairgrounds visit with me sharing their plans to take part in “Mississippi Day at Antietam” at the Antietam National Battlefield at Sharpsburg, Maryland. The 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment was to be honored with a memorial dedication inspired by the Mississippi Memorial Association.


More than a decade earlier, the MMA placed a monument at the Gettysburg National Military Park in honor of the regiment. I had long admired Sansing’s writings about the poignant history of Company A of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment in the Confederate Army, the vaunted "University Greys." The "University Greys" were Ole Miss students who withdrew from college to fight for the South in the Civil War.

While the "Greys" fought with the Army of Northern Virginia in many notable and important Civil War battles -- First Manassas, Second Manassas, Gaines' Mill, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Talley's Mill, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Bethesda Church, Petersburg and Hatcher's Run -- it was during Pickett's Charge on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg that the "Greys" became legendary figures.

Antietam was the single bloodiest day of battle in American history. On Sept. 17, 1862, an estimated 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after 12 hours of fighting, including the 11th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

Sansing was supremely dedicated to the cause of racial reconciliation and civil rights for all. His words and actions over a lifetime proved it. But he never wavered from criticism of his lifelong dedication to paying respects to those Mississippians who fought in the Civil War.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hobby Lobby!

Anonymous said...

tl;dr

Anonymous said...

This is a very good but limited tribute to this great Mississippian and historian who we lost last week. A longer and more detailed insider article, equally generous in recognizing his accomplishments and in passing on significant anecdotes, is certainly due but will never get written because long article journalism is dead due to the lack of a paying market for articles like that, which take time and effort to write. Sid's 700 word column will have to do for now, so thanks Sid.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Sansing was a true historian who would understand the difference between
an exhibit and a shrine. Our state has for far too long been saddled with the leadership of those who don't. It divides us, as expected, but because of his scholarship we have the necessary information to improve upon our past.

A grateful student said...

David Sansing was the best teacher I ever had, and his Mississippi history course was the best course I ever took. I can still picture him talking (not lecturing) the class as he sat on top of his desk with his legs dangling over the side and never once consulting notes or outlines. Ole Miss, Mississippi, and, yes, the entire country could use more men like him. He was a true Mississippi treasure.

Anonymous said...

Let's see who Sid writes about next week. It will be interesting to see who has balls.

Anonymous said...

So it's back to the drawing board for the chancellor selection committee.

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Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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