Coming Together – Great Times for Natchez

Published 6:34 pm Thursday, March 11, 2021

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Anyone who knows me knows I am a lover of music. And I believe it is in the lyrics of great songs that we can find inspiration for so many solutions to the issues that challenge our world today.

At my graduation from Boyd Elementary School in Jackson, MS, at the ripe young age of 12, I will never forget having to learn, along with my classmates, the words to the Burt Bacharach hit: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of… Not just for some, but for everyone.” I still live by these words.

Another great song from my youth, “What’s Goin’ On” by Marvin Gaye, continues to have a profound impact: “War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate. You know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today.” We should be playing this song every day all across America.

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Lately, an old Beetles song has been playing in my head. Overall the lyrics are a little silly, but the refrain is powerful and says it all: “Come Together, Right Now.” In Natchez, I am excited to say that I see this happening. And it gives me hope that truly great times await us. Like spring, we are already starting to feel it in the air.

Over the past year, we as a community have been through a lot together. Just one year ago we were thrown into what would be, for many of us, the scariest and most uncertain chapter of our lives. The virus arrived without warning, and overnight our world shut down. On top of that came economic uncertainty and financial difficulties for everyone, not to mention the fear of getting sick, and then the tragic reality of losing loved ones to an invisible enemy.

This alone should have brought America together, but it seemed to do just the opposite. A divisive political climate, along with a historically-divisive national election, served to further divide our country, eventually culminating in riots and violent demonstrations all across our land, even in our nation’s capital.

The story for Natchez, however, is just the opposite. In our beautiful shining city on the river’s highest hill, we rose above all of this. Our municipal election proved to be very different from what was playing out on the national stage. Summer demonstrations were peaceful. The transition from one administration to another was cordial and positive. On July 24, a new beginning took place, and now, almost eight months later, we are celebrating unity, community, and the advent of opportunity as never before.

Not to say we haven’t had our struggles. In this short time, we have not only suffered through a national pandemic, but we have gone through two hurricanes, several major rain events, and an unprecedented winter storm. But demonstrating that we indeed are #NatchezStrong, we have persevered and come out better for it. We truly are One Natchez, and great times are ahead.

Perhaps this is why Natchez made Forbes “Top Ten List” of best places to travel to during the pandemic. Perhaps this is why news of our Shift South Campaign has resonated with media markets all over the world, why pre-season-sales of tickets for the 2021 Spring Pilgrimage are almost double what they were a year ago before the pandemic, why a record number of new business and new building permits are being issued, and why realtors report record sales activity with dozens of new families moving to Natchez.

We have reason to celebrate. Our community is coming together. Yes, we have more work to do – much in fact. But lets’ all take a moment to sing a song of joy. Natchez – great times are on the horizon.