Born in 1923 in Grenada, Mississippi, William F. Winter served in the armed forces in World War II and the Korean War. He was awarded a BA from the University of Mississippi in 1943 and an LL.B. in 1949. He has since been awarded over five honorary degrees. His credentials within the academic community are long standing: Jamie Whitten Professor of Law and Government at the University of Mississippi School of Law (Fall 1989); Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College (Spring 1989); Fellow, Institute of Politics, Harvard University (1985) and President, Ole Miss Alumni Association (1978). He continues to practice law with the Jackson, MS, firm of Watkins Ludlum Winter & Stennis, P.A. which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in 2005.
William Winter is most well known, however, for his role in leading the charge for publicly-funded primary education while he was the fifty-eighth governor of Mississippi from 1980-1984. His governance echoed his belief that all people, regardless of race or class, should be entitled to the same rights and privileges as the most privileged enjoys. In a substantial way, Governor Winter’s accomplishments were honored in 1997 when President Bill Clinton initiated “One America,” an unprecedented national conversation on race. Winter served on the board of One America, helping to bring the only deep-South public forum to the University of Mississippi. President Bill Clinton has called Winter a “great champion of civil rights.” Positive changes stem from great leadership, and William Winter is one of many guiding lights for Mississippi and America.
In 2002 on his 80th birthday, the Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi was renamed the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in his honor. On May 12, 2008, Governor Winter was honored at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Click here to read his acceptance speech.
Start here for video of Gov. William Winter:
Other videos featuring Gov. Winter can be viewed here:
Open Doors and John Hope Franklin Lecture
Gov William Winter on his childhood
Gov William Winter on his grandfather and the Confederacy
Gov William Winter on inequitable education in Mississippi during his childhood
“About Us.” William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. U of Mississippi. http://www.winterinstitute.org/pages/aboutus.htm.