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At noon on Wednesday, July 18, as part of the department’s History Is Lunch series, Julian Rankin will discuss his new book Catfish Dream: Ed Scott's Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta.

The book follows the struggles of Ed Scott Jr. (born in 1922), a farmer who became the nation’s first nonwhite owner and operator of a catfish plant.

“Both directly and indirectly, the economic and political realities of food and subsistence affect the everyday lives of Delta farmers and the people there,” said Rankin. “Ed’s own father was a former sharecropper turned landowner who was one of the first black men to grow rice in the state. Ed carries this mantle forth with his soybean and rice farming and later with his catfish operation, which fed the black community both physically and symbolically.”

Vicksburg native William Ferris, former director of the National Endowment for the Humanities, said "Julian Rankin eloquently describes how Ed Scott courageously struggles with the bureaucracy of racism, only to discover that the system is embedded in our society at both the local and the national levels. Most important, Rankin shows how Scott and his family resisted and ultimately defeated that system.”

Julian Rankin was raised in Oxford, Mississippi, and the Mississippi Delta before moving to North Carolina. He earned his BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed operations and marketing internships with the United States Senate and CNN. Rankin is the recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s first annual residency at Rivendell Writers Colony. He is the founding director of the Center for Art & Public Exchange at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Catfish Dream is his first book.

The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at the Two Mississippi Museums-—the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—-located at 222 North Street, Jackson, MS 39201. There is no charge to attend. Copies of the book will be for sale in the Mississippi Museum Store. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email


July 25—Anders Walker will discuss his new book The Burning House: Jim Crow and the Making of Modern America. Sales and signing to follow.

August 1—University of Mississippi School of Business dean Ken Cyree will discuss the book Ole Miss Business: The First 100 Years, 1917-2017. Sales and signing to follow.

August 8—University of Alabama professor David Beito will discuss his book T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer. Sales and signing to follow.

August 15—Julia Eichelberger will discuss her book Tell about Night Flowers: Eudora Welty’s Gardening Letters, 1940-1949. Sales and signing to follow.

August 22—Brenda L. Travis will discuss her book Mississippi's Exiled Daughter: How My Civil Rights Baptism under Fire Shaped My Life. Sales and signing to follow.

August 29—Maddee Miller will present “Stories Unfolded: An Exhibit of Mississippi Quilts.”

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