Literary Celebration welcomes special guests

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 4, 2000

From television star Gerald McRaney to national humanities officials, a wide range of people attended this year’s 11th annual Natchez Literary Celebration.

William R. Ferris, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, arrived in Natchez Friday to attend this year’s celebration, whose theme was &uot;The Sacred South: Writings from the Bible Belt.

Ferris described the celebration as &uot;a unique mixture of education and cultural tourism.&uot;

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A native of the Vicksburg area, Ferris said he grew up visiting Natchez. He believes events like the NLC display Natchez’s diverse history.

&uot;Natchez has always been different than any other community and this celebration showcases that,&uot; he said.

Ferris worked for 18 years as the director for the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi before taking his current position about two years ago. He has attended past Natchez Literary Celebrations and occasionally has been a speaker on the program.

Ferris was among those honored Saturday morning with a reception hosted by Temple B’Nai Israel. Also honored were the celebration’s new advisory board and the first William Winter scholars.

Mississippi native McRaney also attended the reception. &uot;It’s been terrific,&uot; he said of the celebration. &uot;It’s been absolutely wonderful. I would like to something like this all over the state because Mississippi has such a rich literary heritage.&uot;

Events such as the literary celebration are the heart of a small town like Natchez, Ferris said. &uot;Each year, it reminds the community of its rich heritage,&uot; he said.

As chairman for the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris said his role is to promote events such as the literary celebration. &uot;I’ve been a strong believer in the development of grass-roots culture and the celebration of events like this,&uot; he said.