Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Two Mississippi Museums in December 2017, former Governor William F. Winter declared, “These two museums were built for all of us, but most especially they were built for our children and our grandchildren and future generations.” His dream was that every Mississippi student would visit these museums at least once.
Winter would have turned 100 on Tuesday, February 21. To honor his legacy, the Two Mississippi Museums will be free to the public on that day. This day of free admission is made possible by Jones Walker LLP, which acquired Watkins, Ludlam, Winter and Stennis where Governor Winter worked for over 50 years.
“Governor Winter had a such a profound impact on the people of Mississippi and our nation. We are pleased that more people will have access to the museum on the day of his birthday. This is the perfect way to honor Governor Winter’s legacy in such a meaningful and impactful way—the exact way he lived his life,” said Bill Hines, managing partner of Jones Walker LLP.
Winter was known for his strong support for public education in Mississippi. He helped to raise endowment funds to bring Mississippi’s school children to the Two Mississippi Museums, or as he called them, “Mississippi’s largest classroom.”
“On this day, which would have been our father’s 100th birthday, we can think of no greater way to celebrate his life,” said his daughter Eleanor Winter. “He and others worked for years to make these museums a reality. It would bring him the greatest pleasure to know that the doors are flung wide open on his birthday for all to explore and learn about our state’s history.”
The Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum stand at the intersection of Winter’s greatest passions—history, education, and racial justice—and he was the leading force behind the public/private partnership through which they were built.
He believed the museums would, in his words, “challenge us to have a better understanding of where we have come from, and then inspire us to work harder to find our common ideals and goals.” He believed that “we will find that we have much more in common than what might appear to divide us.”
“All Mississippians should have the opportunity to experience the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” said Katie Blount, director of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). “We are grateful to the Winter family and to Jones Walker for this wonderful tribute to Governor and Mrs. Winter at the Two Mississippi Museums.”
Pamela D.C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums, said, “We hope you will visit us Tuesday, February 21, to honor this living memorial to Governor’s Winter’s life and work.”
Winter served on the MDAH Board of Trustees for more than 50 years and was president for nearly that long. He died December 18, 2020, at the age of 97. Elise Winter, his wife of 70 years who was a community activist and author, died just six months after her husband on July 17, 2021.
The William and Elise Winter Education Endowment was established by the Foundation for Mississippi History to memorialize Mississippi’s former governor and first lady and their commitment to education and preservation. Funds are used to defray costs such as admission, travel, and on-site lunches for students.
For more information about free Tuesday, February 21, at the Two Mississippi Museums, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 601-576-6850.
To learn more about school field trips to the Two Mississippi Museums or to make a field trip reservation visit https://2mm.mdah.ms.gov/learn/field-trips.