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Actor Morgan Freeman Loved at Home in Mississippi

Mac Gordon

Donuts on Cake

Just what is it that endears Morgan Freeman to millions worldwide, but particularly to Mississippians?

His brilliance before the cameras as one of filmdom’s leading actors?

His godlike, rich voice that is recognizable to almost everybody without the attachment of his name to the sound?

His love for this state in which he was nurtured and still lives because he wants to live here, when he could live anywhere and he doesn’t mind telling anyone who wants to know all the whys and wherefores of that?

There are myriad reasons why this man is loved by so many people in so many places, but most especially here, at home.

Tell it to anyone who’ll listen: Morgan Freeman belongs to Mississippi and he will explain in a heartbeat why he lives here, if you ask and don’t get it.

There he was the other day on the pages of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, pictured in an advertisement for, get this, Turkish Airlines. Turkey! “We Are All Connected.” Those words were the totality of the promotion. And who better than Morgan Freeman and his radiant smile to transport that message to the global masses?

That benevolent smile of his was the subject of something else I saw online. A website was promoting a “smile test.” Guess whose smile was projected to measure yours against? That’s right.

Perhaps his watchful eyes on seemingly all things Ole Miss – a sporting event, a play, a cause – is why he’s so loved here, at home.

Less than a year ago, the University of Mississippi announced that Freeman and a UM professor, Linda Keena, had donated $1 million to fund a “Center for Evidence-Based Policing and Reform,” one of only a few of its kind in the nation. The program will train law enforcement officers on using more evidence-based practices and how to better cooperate with citizens to prevent crime.

Said Freeman, “Look at the past year in our country – that sums it up. It’s time we are equipping police officers with training and ensuring ‘law enforcement’ is not defined only as a gun and a stick. Policing should be about that phrase – ‘To Serve’ – found on most law enforcement vehicles.”

Freeman, a lover of Rebel athletics, is frequently seen in Oxford at assorted ball games. His cap always carries that familiar Ole Miss “M.” He cheers with the best of them and he’s been known to counsel refs on their calls.

Recently on Facebook, someone posted his photo with friends drinking coffee in another Ole Miss campus venue. He no doubt relishes going almost anywhere at UM without being hounded by autograph seekers.

This cherished Mississippian is not technically “from here.” Freeman was born in Memphis, but six months later he was sent to live with his grandmother in Charleston, on the Delta’s eastern fringe where he resides, ranches and plays a lot of golf.

Freeman graduated from Broad Street High School in Greenwood in1955. It was there the drama bug bit him. He never recovered from it, working in more movies, documentaries, voice-overs and theatrical productions – including Shakespearian tragedies -- than most artists only dream of doing. He’s won an Academy Award. He is also an Air Force veteran. Mr. Freeman, thank you for your service to country.

Back home, he and the late Clarksdale lawyer, mayor and gubernatorial candidate Bill Luckett opened a fine-dining restaurant and a blues club to help that Delta city.

Morgan Freeman is not a perfect person. There was only one. But he is our treasure and Mississippi loves him. Let’s tell him that every chance we get.

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