By Gary Flanagan
Jackson,Mississippi was the 23rd stop of my separation of church and state Capitol tour. From Little Rock,Arkansas, I followed I-40, US 49, MS 8, and I-55 to the only United States capital to have a dormant volcano under it. The last estimated eruption was 66 million years ago. The land that is present day Jackson, Mississippi,has transitioned from Choctaw Nation known as “Chisha Foka”, to a small village centrally located in the state known as LaFleur’s Bluff, to the state capital named after the 7th President of the United States.
My quest to find the Capitol building and it’s closest church was a much easier transition.From I-55 south, follow the signs. Right off the ramp, left on N. State street, Right on Mississippi and both buildings are right there. First Baptist Church of Jackson and it’s multi block campus is literally a crosswalk away from the east entrance of the Mississippi State Capitol.
Three seems to be a magic number when visiting this location. The city is on it’s third name. This Capitol building, finished in 1903 with its 8 foot tall, 15 foot wide eagle, is the third since statehood.The First Baptist Church started as a group of seven people in 1838. the first church was finished in 1844, the second in 1868 and the third and current structure was completed in 1926. You can read about this 175 year community at fbcj.org.
Even songs loosely attributed to Jackson come in threes. “Jackson” was written in 1963 by co writers Billy Edd Wheeler and Jerry Lieber then released as chart topping singles in 1967 by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, then followed by Johnny Cash and June Carter. The writers never specified which Jackson (Tennessee or Mississippi) they were referring to. Kid Rock was quite specific in 2003 in his song, Jackson, Mississippi. Finally, Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars in the hit of this past summer, Uptown Funk, uses the state capital in the following lyric.
“Stop.Wait a minute. Fill my cup, put some liquor in it. Take a sip, sign a check. Julio, get the stretch. Ride to Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson, Mississippi. If we show up, we goin show out. Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.”
Now there is a traveling salesman problem for you. Which Hollywood is the writer talking about before reaching Jackson? Harlem, NY to Hollywood, AL to Jackson, MS is 1244 miles. Harlem, NY to Hollywood, CA to Jackson, MS is 4640 miles. That’s some serious Foka, Bluff, Funk going on.
I think I’ll just keep it simple on the next destination. I’m going to Jackson, TN from Jackson, MS on the way to our state Capitol in Nashville, TN.