Mississippians of a certain age will remember the state song from elementary and junior high school sing-a-longs.
The chorus is, “Go Mississippi, keep rolling along. Go Mississippi, you cannot go wrong. Go Mississippi we’re singing your song. M-I-S S-I-S S-I-P-P-I.” It echoed in the halls of predominantly white schools in the 1960s.
The melody of the current “Go Mississippi” was the 1959 campaign tune of Gov. Ross Barnett, who tried to block James Meredith’s admission as the first black student at the University of Mississippi in 1962. His campaign song, “Roll with Ross,” declared, “He’s for segregation 100 percent. He’s not a mod-rate like some other gent.”
The all-white Legislature adopted the tune as the state song in 1962, with tamer lyrics. Mississippi has made significant social and political changes since then, but the old Barnett tune is still an official symbol.
Off and on, and with little enthusiasm, lawmakers have considered new state songs. They’re being asked to do so again this year, with two bills filed by Sen. Robert Jackson, a Democrat from Marks. One proposes replacing “Go Mississippi” with “My Home Mississippi.” Another would create two state songs — “Go Mississippi” and “My Home Mississippi.”