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Country music singer and songwriter Steve Azar at the Mississippi Capitol in Jackson, Jan 4, 2022. Mississippi legislators passed a bill March 31, 2022, to designate Azar's "One Mississippi" as the new state song and to create a study committee to consider additional state songs in the future. "One Mississippi" would replace "Go, Mississippi," which became the state song in 1962. "Go, Mississippi" uses the tune of a 1959 campaign song by Ross Barnett, who won the governor's race that year on a pro-segregation platform. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Published: 17 April 2022

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is ditching a state song that's based on the campaign tune of a former governor who pledged to preserve segregation.

The current governor, Republican Tate Reeves, signed a bill Thursday to replace “Go, Mississippi" with a new song called “One Mississippi.” The change will happen July 1 — two years after Mississippi retired a Confederate-themed state flag.

“Go, Mississippi" uses the tune, but not the lyrics, from a 1959 campaign jingle of Democratic Gov. Ross Barnett. “Roll With Ross" included the lyrics, “For segregation, 100%. He's not a moderate, like some of the gents."

Barnett unsuccessfully resisted integration of the University of Mississippi in 1962. Legislators adopted a state song that year setting new words to his campaign music: “Go, Mississippi, keep rolling along. Go, Mississippi, you cannot go wrong.”

The new state song was composed by country music singer and songwriter Steve Azar, who's a Mississippi native, for the state’s 2017 bicentennial celebration.

The lyrics of “One Mississippi" play on the hide-and-seek counting game (One Mississippi ... two Mississippi ... three Mississippi ...). The song uses familiar images, including magnolia trees, fried catfish, hurricanes and kudzu.

The new law also creates a committee to recommend that legislators designate additional state songs later. Tennessee is among states with multiple official songs.

____ Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

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