Literary and cinema conference set for February

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Special to the Democrat

Mention Southern political leaders through the years, and immediately Thomas Jefferson, John C. Calhoun, John A. Quitman, Theodore Bilbo, Andrew Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Huey P. Long, George Wallace, Ross Barnett, Jimmy Carter, William F. Winter, Robert G. Clark and many others come to mind.

Are these people admirable or not?

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Find out at the Olympic Award-winning 15th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, which will use the theme &uot;Statesmen to Scoundrels: Politics in the Deep South.&uot;

The event, set for Feb. 25-29 in Natchez, is sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez National Historical Park, Mississippi Department of Archives and History and Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Headquarters will be the Natchez Convention Center on Main Street.

&uot;Nearly three dozen nationally known scholars, historians, writers and film experts will present fascinating programs about the Southern political world,&uot; said Carolyn Vance Smith of Copiah-Lincoln’s Natchez campus, founder and co-chairwoman of the conference.

&uot;These programs include biographical sketches of early political leaders, the political leanings of Eudora Welty and a discussion of Robert Penn Warren’s ‘All the King’s Men,’ both the book and the film based on the life of Louisiana’s colorful Huey P. Long.&uot;

Tours of historic mansions occupied by early Mississippi political leaders, commercial and documentary films, panel discussions, writing workshops, an awards ceremony honoring the writers Greg Iles of Natchez and William Scarborough of the University of Southern Mississippi and screenplay writer Gail Gilchriest of Texas and Los Angeles, exhibits, parties and more are on tap, Smith said.

&uot;We always have fun at this conference,&uot; she said. &uot;This year Dr. Allen Dennis, a musician who is also a major historian, will present a program based on political statements in the songs of Johnny Cash. He will sing and accompany himself on the guitar.

&uot;Also, two panel discussions featuring nationally known editorial cartoonists and editorial columnists will explore how cartoonists and columnists influence political outcomes.&uot;

A special event during the Celebration is a festive reception and dinner at the mansion Gloucester, once home of Winthrop Sargent, first governor of the Mississippi Territory and now home of John and Gwen Deakle of Hattiesburg. &uot;This event will honor the award winners and all speakers,&uot; Smith said. &uot;The Deakles have recently restored Gloucester in all its majesty, and the mansion is absolutely gorgeous.&uot;

Most of the conference is free, Smith said. For information and tickets, call toll-free (866) 296-NLCC (866-296-6522) or (601) 446-1289. Or email

or visit the NLCC web site at