It has been an incredible journey since I first set foot on the campus of Jackson State University in August of 1983. My matriculation at Jackson State laid the foundation for me to find myself, because self-identity is crucial, and understand comprehensively my calling to public service. My years on "The Yard" exposed me to so much of Mississippi, the Black Diaspora, and the rest of the world. It is one thing to grow up in the "The City of Big Shoulders"; it is another to become an adult in Mississippi.
The citizens of Mississippi have made me feel welcome. For nine years, I had the privilege of serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives, trying my best to do their will. I was given the opportunity twice to represent the Mississippi Democratic Party as their nominee for the United States Senate. I have enjoyed many family reunions, church services, picnics, parties, football games and mint tea/lemonade/beer/bourbon drinks. I've had the unique privilege of traveling through all 82 counties and speaking (and partying) at nearly all of the institutions of higher learning.
Most importantly, I became a father to a native Mississippian and he is developing into the most special young man any father could ever be proud of. That will be the toughest transition of all, being away from him, but being the hero he has always been to me, he has worked out a strategy that I will strictly adhere to, to ease that angst and stay involved in his life.
I have friends that I am leaving behind. People who have been a constant reminder of how good human beings can be. I will miss you greatly. However, as long as I have my right mind, I will always have the memories that will make me smile and remind me that Mississippi is a exceptional place.
There will be those that will probably be glad to see me go, for whatever reason. I have to accept that, because we have all come up short and not been our best with everyone. I have asked for forgiveness from them and from God for those times. Maybe the distance will make that happen eventually.
Nevertheless, when you have been blessed to live 52 years on this earth, the good outweighs the bad. I would not trade in my experience in Mississippi for anything in the world. My only hope is that, as history will judge, that my time was significant enough to help move this state forward in some small way. I wish I could have done more and learned more. I did learn how to survive here though, and that will be a quality that I can take with me to Atlanta, or anywhere else God leads me to be in the future.
I'm gonna miss going up Highway 49 seeing the cotton growing and being harvested. I'm gonna miss Walnut Hills and Mary Mahoney's, Doe's and Char, Smith's Downtown and Widemann's. I'm gonna miss hanging out at the casinos and playing Mississippi golf. But at least I know I'm only six hours away if get homesick.
Anyway, before I get too sentimental, I just wanted to thank the people of Mississippi for letting me be a part of the experience in the most hospitable of ways. Y'all have made me a better person and a more conscious human being. Take care for now and may God continue to bless y'all, strengthen y'all, and keep y'all in His favor always.