JoAnne Prichard Morris

September 15, 2009
Excerpts from  JoAnne Prichard Morris interview

Excerpts from JoAnne Prichard Morris interview

I don’t ever remember saying, “Now I am going to start writing.” My inspirations are that something interests me and I want to know more about it. I love research. I have always loved research. In Yazoo City, I wanted to know more about the history of the place. And so Harriet DeCell and I wrote the History of Yazoo County, and the inspiration was just finding out things.

As an editor at the University Press, I was finding writers, acquiring material, and working with good writers. I was able to help academic writers write for general audiences, so that everybody could understand, which expands the audience for the book. I started a series and built on things that I already knew and was interested in. One of them was the author and artist series—Mississippi writers and Mississippi artists. The first one was Morgana. We used Eduora Welty stories, and Mildred Wolfe did the illustrations. 

I wanted to write Unita Blackwell’s story first of all because its just an incredible story. She’s an incredible woman. We both grew up in the Delta, at not exactly the same time, but before desegregation—growing up in the South as it had been forever. I knew what kind of life she had lived, and she knew to some extent what kind of life I lived. And they were two separate worlds that coexisted. We didn’t live in the same town, but we could have. We still wouldn’t have known each other unless she happened to have been a domestic worker in our house.

It was a way for me to try to understand the struggle, because that’s a very hard thing to do. I’ll never really totally understand it.


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