By Lynne Cunningham
Our state legislature is a large body of lawmakers at work, keeping the engine of our state government humming. Senator Giles Ward and Representative Michael Evans are striving to fulfill their obligations as elected officials from our district to make our legislative body a viable working machine.
We could see first-hand some of that procedure and process by visiting the state capitol in Jackson when the legislature is in session. When my friends from Corinth, MS. asked me to accompany them to Jackson in the spring of this year, they made it clear that a visit to our state Capitol was high on their list of places to visit, and they furthermore entreated me to smooth the path for them and me by contacting my contacts (if any) to help make arrangements.
I immediately thought of Senator Giles Ward and believed he could give us some expert advice and consent. Sure enough he told me who to call to arrange a tour and the plans were very easily set about due to the friendly competent head-lady of the tour department.
On the day of our visit we were met upon entering the door of the north entrance of the State Capitol building and ushered into the rotunda at the ground level. The soaring space reaching upward beyond the second and third levels encircled by rails and bannisters gives you a wonderful sense of freedom and open movement. Standing on the ground level you see people walking about as if they are on assignment and a few pages scurring back and forth on some type of delivery.
Moving up in the elevator you quickly make the lift to enter the gallery of the Senate Chamber on the second level and can look down at the floor with a bird’s-eye view. There you see all the Senators/ Salons at their desks facing the podium on which rests the lectern of the presiding official, the Lt. Governor. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves was presiding on the day of our visit and Senator Ward was recognized by him to present all three of us to the entire chamber. We were caught a little off guard at hearing our names announced by Senator Ward’s full melodious voice. We hoped we weren’t too much of an intrusion on the state’s business agenda for that day. We were about to get nose-bleed being up so high near the ceiling.
On to the House of Representatives where Rep. Michael Evans met us and again made our presence known to the entire body of legislators. My friends from Alcorn County met their representatives and the official photographer made our official photo. After the photo we ran into a lobbist who had connections to Alcorn County and another lobbist who belonged to Fondren Presbyterian Church in Jackson of which I was a member when I lived there. They gave us some interesting updates on the current legislative happenings.
As we boarded the elevator to descend to the lower stratosphere a young page about 4 feet tall, all dressed up in coat and tie, offered to push the button for us. He told us he lived in Brandon. Now our tour was complete and our guide presented us with a parting gift, button-hole pins, bronze colored in the shape of the Capitol building an imposing, beautiful building we can all be proud of. The golden eagle in full-flight pose with outstretched wings is shinning over the cupola and the glass dome to make this building a symbol of democracy at work of the people, by the people and for the people of the great State of Mississippi. Visit the Capitol Building and our local state officials. You’ll be glad you did.
When my friends and I repaired to the May Flower Cafe (site of a special scene in The Help) for lunch we sat at a table next to one where the young page boy who operated the elevator buttons for us was seated. Pretty soon he was joined by two men all dressed up in coats and ties too. One of them was Attorney-General Jim Hood. I wrote my friend a note saying, “You are sitting right next to Attorney-General Jim Hood at the next table.” The waitress came up to give us our checks and asked where we were from. When my friends said Corinth and Alcorn County Jim Hood turned around and wanted to know if they knew some people he knew in Alcorn County. They were duly impressed.
Our others stops in Jackson were the Old Capitol, Mynelle Gardens, Eudora Welty’s House and Gardens and Tony’s Tamales on Fortification. April was a good time to go — not too hot. Check your calendar and the legislatures’ schedule for the next session and take a tour of our government at work.