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White Has Been A Tireless Supporter Of Arts And Creative Life In The State

By Mickey Howley
WVMSA Director

Malcolm White is retiring as director of the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC). In that position, he has been a friend and advocate for the creative life in Water Valley like no other. 

White began his career in public service as the executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, administering recovery programs to artists and arts organizations impacted by the storm. He also promoted the arts as an economic driver, means of community transformation and powerful educational tool. Malcolm developed and implemented plans to create economic growth and opportunities through tourism, the creative economy and promoted the state as a travel destination and film location. 

Malcolm has been a ceaseless traveler across the state, promoting the arts, and in his story telling of the Arts and Mississippi, he has spoken of Water Valley as a positive example. I can’t tell you how many times people from other places said to me, “Malcolm said to see what is going on in Water Valley.”  

Not only that, but he built an incredible team at MAC, for that we should be thankful, as we as citizens have all benefited from that hard-working MAC staff. Malcolm’s contagious enthusiasm, never say die attitude, and directed energy has made the Arts in this state come to the forefront. I wish him the best and he will be missed.

 From a recent email exchange with another state official, that person mused “Who knew this virus would last so long?” 

I did not respond, but I thought, heck, a bunch of people did. George W. Bush certainly did when he pushed legislation, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, in anticipation of the biggest threat on the distant horizon. Barack Obama knew after the Ebola virus threat and acted upon it. Bill Gates in 2015, in a TED talk, said a virus pandemic would be the biggest economic threat to the entire planet. It was not any secret that a pandemic would be a long-term threat, not only to health, but to the economy. Anyone’s belief that a pandemic would be a quick passing event did not understand the nature of how viruses act and kill. In hindsight, it is all too easy to be critical, but the reality of a pandemic threat was no hidden thing or unknown event or human mystery. 

 Here’s a nice headline from the Wall Street Journal, “After Reopening, Coronavirus-Hit States Chart Their Own Paths to Close Up Again.” New public-health analyses show the majority of states don’t meet CDC’s criteria for lifting restrictions.” And the states where the virus is kicking hard now are Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. 

Google just told its employees to work from home until July, 2021. They know it’s not going away in a flash. Merchants on Water Valley’s Main Street have been yelled at and cursed when they asked customers to wear mandatory masks. Can’t you wear the mask for the few minutes you are in public? 

There was a point back in early March when the USA could have severely hindered the spread and death rate like other countries did, but we did not. We fumbled that opportunity and it’s too late now to imagine a quick defense to stop this. We’re barely playing defense at all. The virus is pushing us back every day, we need some teamwork to beat this thing, and everyone needs to be a player in that goal. 

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