‘One Mississippi’ replaces state song that had racist roots

April 15, 2022 GMT
FILE - Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett waves a confederate flag before the start of Ole Miss-Kentucky football game at the stadium on Sept. 29, 1962, in Jackson, Miss. With Barnett is his wife, the former Pearl Crawford, left. Mississippi in 2022 is on the verge of retiring a state song with racist roots, two years after it surrendered a Confederate-themed state flag. “Go, Mississippi" uses the tune of a 1959 campaign song for Ross Barnett, who won the governor's race proclaiming support of segregation. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File)
FILE - Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett waves a confederate flag before the start of Ole Miss-Kentucky football game at the stadium on Sept. 29, 1962, in Jackson, Miss. With Barnett is his wife, the former Pearl Crawford, left. Mississippi in 2022 is on the verge of retiring a state song with racist roots, two years after it surrendered a Confederate-themed state flag. “Go, Mississippi" uses the tune of a 1959 campaign song for Ross Barnett, who won the governor's race proclaiming support of segregation. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File)
FILE - Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett waves a confederate flag before the start of Ole Miss-Kentucky football game at the stadium on Sept. 29, 1962, in Jackson, Miss. With Barnett is his wife, the former Pearl Crawford, left. Mississippi in 2022 is on the verge of retiring a state song with racist roots, two years after it surrendered a Confederate-themed state flag. “Go, Mississippi" uses the tune of a 1959 campaign song for Ross Barnett, who won the governor's race proclaiming support of segregation. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File)
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FILE - Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett waves a confederate flag before the start of Ole Miss-Kentucky football game at the stadium on Sept. 29, 1962, in Jackson, Miss. With Barnett is his wife, the former Pearl Crawford, left. Mississippi in 2022 is on the verge of retiring a state song with racist roots, two years after it surrendered a Confederate-themed state flag. “Go, Mississippi" uses the tune of a 1959 campaign song for Ross Barnett, who won the governor's race proclaiming support of segregation. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File)
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FILE - Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett waves a confederate flag before the start of Ole Miss-Kentucky football game at the stadium on Sept. 29, 1962, in Jackson, Miss. With Barnett is his wife, the former Pearl Crawford, left. Mississippi in 2022 is on the verge of retiring a state song with racist roots, two years after it surrendered a Confederate-themed state flag. “Go, Mississippi" uses the tune of a 1959 campaign song for Ross Barnett, who won the governor's race proclaiming support of segregation. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is ditching a state song that’s based on the campaign tune of a former governor who pledged to preserve segregation.

The current governor, Republican Tate Reeves, signed a bill Thursday to replace “Go, Mississippi” with a new song called “One Mississippi.” The change will happen July 1 — two years after Mississippi retired a Confederate-themed state flag.

“Go, Mississippi” uses the tune, but not the lyrics, from a 1959 campaign jingle of Democratic Gov. Ross Barnett. “Roll With Ross” included the lyrics, “For segregation, 100%. He’s not a moderate, like some of the gents.”

Barnett unsuccessfully resisted integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962. Legislators adopted a state song that year setting new words to his campaign music: “Go, Mississippi, keep rolling along. Go, Mississippi, you cannot go wrong.”

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The new state song was composed by country music singer and songwriter Steve Azar, who’s a Mississippi native, for the state’s 2017 bicentennial celebration.

The lyrics of “One Mississippi” play on the hide-and-seek counting game (One Mississippi ... two Mississippi ... three Mississippi ...). The song uses familiar images, including magnolia trees, fried catfish, hurricanes and kudzu.

The new law also creates a committee to recommend that legislators designate additional state songs later. Tennessee is among states with multiple official songs.

____ Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.