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Who is the most Groundbreaking Mississippian? Who is the person that is the most innovative, inspiring, heroic, and culturally or politically significant in all of Mississippi history? Here's your chance to cast your vote! Choose the most Groundbreaking Mississippian from the list below or write-in your pick and tell us why they're a Groundbreaker. But vote soon - the polls close April 1, 2014!


Hamer became a prominent civil rights activist in the 1960s as she traveled across her home state of Mississippi and the South while working to register African Americans to vote. In 1964, she was elected Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party where she was able to advocate for her cause on a national level.

Revels was a former slave and minister from South Carolina that settled in Natchez. In 1870, he became the first African American to serve in the United States Senate and the overall Congress.

Considered the father of American Country Music, this Meridian native recorded more than 100 songs during a brief, six-year recording career. He was the first inductee in the Country Music Hall of Fame and is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and, most recently, the Blues Hall of Fame.

This National Baseball Hall of Fame member and Starkville native was one of the stars of the American Negro League during his nearly 30 years as a player and coach. Known for his blinding speed, he is regularly recognized as of one of the most outstanding centerfielders in professional baseball history.

This Leland, Mississippi, native was a pioneer in puppetry and television. Henson created some of the most memorable and beloved characters in television and film, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster.

A native of Pascagoula and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Buffet’s musical career began in Nashville in the 1960s. Some refer to his musical style as gulf and western, a nod to his origins on the Gulf of Mexico and the tropical themes of his songs.

Born a slave in Louisiana, John Roy Lynch had a photography studio in Natchez. During Reconstruction he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives and was elected to the position of Speaker of the House, the first African American to be elected to that role in Mississippi.

The Key Brothers operated a flying school in Meridian where they broke the record for flight endurance by completing a 27 day continuous flight over the vicinity of the city on July 1, 1935. They also worked with local mechanic and inventor A.D. Hunter to develop a cut-off valve to enable mid-air refueling. With some modifications the valve is still used today.

A language arts and social studies teacher, Ms. Rice has taught for eleven years. She currently teaches fourth graders at Canton’s Camden Elementary School.

The first African American elected to the State Legislature since Reconstruction. At the time, Robert G. Clark JR. was the only African American in the House. Later he served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House and was the only 2nd African American to serve in the position.

Blackwell worked with SNCC during Freedom Summer. She became the first female African American mayor in Mississippi when she was elected the mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi in 1976.

Like many women during World War II, Vera Anderson of Gulfport took a man's job to help support the war effort and was one of the first five female welders at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula. In 1943 and 1944 she competed for and became the Women's World Champion Welder.

Running back Walter Payton began his football career at Jackson State University and later played for thirteen seasons with the Chicago Bears. After being diagnosed with a rare liver disease he became an advocate for organ donation before dying at the age of 45.

Faulkner, an Oxford native, became known not only as a writer of American literature but of Southern literature. He won the Nobel Prize in 1949 and later two Pulitzer Prizes.

Architect William Nichols designed and built important buildings across the south and became Mississippi's state architect where he designed the Governor's Mansion in Jackson and the Lyceum at the University of Mississippi. His greatest masterpiece, the Old Capitol, served as statehouse from 1839-1903 and still serves today as the state's premier symbol of democracy. Today it is a National Historic Landmark.

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