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NLCC to be ‘bigger than life’

Bigger than life MIssissippians, including, top row from left, poet Margaret Walker, puppeteer Jim Henson, writer William Faulkner; bottom row, Elvis Presley, Eudora Welty and Richard Wright.

Bigger than life MIssissippians, including, top row from left, poet Margaret Walker, puppeteer Jim Henson, writer William Faulkner; bottom row, Elvis Presley, Eudora Welty and Richard Wright.

By Sarah Cook/The Natchez Democrat

From literary legends William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams to blues musicians Robert Johnson and B.B. King, the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration will pay homage to some of Mississippi’s most revered icons.

The theme of the 26th annual celebration is “Bigger Than Life: Extraordinary Mississippians.” Events begin Thursday, Feb. 26, and continue through Saturday, Feb. 28.

NLCC founder and co-chairperson Carolyn Vance Smith said this year’s conference gives a reverent nod to a wide range of Mississippi natives.

“We strive to create a balanced program using living and deceased subjects, black and white, male and female from various fields of interest,” Smith said. “With only two conference days to cover the huge subject of extraordinary Mississippians, choosing people on whom to focus was very difficult.”

Since its 1990 inception, the NLCC has showcased a long list of Mississippi’s literary, cinema, music and cultural achievements. Boasting countless renowned speakers in years past like Maya Angelou, Ellen Douglas and Eudora Welty, the program has blossomed into a premier Natchez event.

“The NLCC might in one sense be likened to a Southern Chautauqua, but one convened in stately Southern mansions,” Smith said.

This year, the event’s advisory committee worked to incorporate new elements that would attract residents of all ages. Saturday, Feb. 28 will specifically cater to families with kid-friendly events like a Chocolate Milk Café and writing project for young students.

“There is something for everyone — young and old — at this year’s celebration,” said Teresa Busby, vice president of Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Other events on the program’s agenda include a special luncheon featuring the favorite recipes of the late Craig Claiborne, the long-time New York Times food writer, a multimedia musical program based on Mississippi poet Margaret Walker and a special reception at the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture.

Co-Lin President Ronnie Nettles said he hopes this year’s NLCC is shines a light on the state’s vast cultural accomplishments — and the individuals who made them possible.

“There is so much in our state to be proud of,” Nettles said. “And while it’s impossible for us to recognize everyone, the program will have a great representation.”

The conference is free except for three events, which require tickets purchased in advance: The Margaret Walker Concert ($10), Craig Claiborne luncheon ($25) and the NLCC’s only fundraiser, a reception and dinner at King’s Tavern ($145). Sponsors include Co-Lin Community College and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History with support from the Natchez National Historic Park and Mississippi Humanities Council.

For more information, visit colin.edu/nlcc.

Ronnie Nettles, president of Copiah-Lincoln Community College — a major sponsor of the celebration — will kick off the program Friday, Feb. 27, at the Natchez Convention Center.