In the fall’s first installment of the Morris W.H. (Bill) Collins Speaker Series, former Mississippi Governor William L. Waller spoke and signed copies of his new book, Straight Ahead: The Memoirs of a Mississippi Governor.
Governor Waller spoke at 3:00pm on Thursday, October 4 in the John Grisham Room of Mitchell Memorial Library.
William L. Waller, Sr., served as Mississippi’s governor from 1972 to 1976, and his constructive leadership helped chart a new direction for Mississippi.
Waller, who was born in Lafayette County, Mississippi, graduated from Oxford High School and earned his bachelor of arts degree at Memphis State University. After earning his law degree from the University of Mississippi, Waller established a law practice in Jackson. Waller was elected Hinds County District Attorney in 1959 and was re-elected in 1963. Waller’s most famous case as a prosecuting attorney was the Medgar Evers assassination. His vigorous prosecution of that case brought many commendations to the young district attorney and was often cited as an indication of the changing attitudes of Mississippi’s public officials.
After an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1967, Waller was elected to the state’s highest office on his second try. One of the most important accomplishments of Governor Waller’s administration was the separation of the tax collecting responsibilities from the law enforcement duties of the county sheriff. That change, which created two separate offices and allowed sheriffs to succeed themselves, improved the quality of law enforcement in Mississippi and professionalized the office of sheriff. Governor Waller also integrated the highway patrol and appointed blacks to boards, commissions, and other state agencies. For the first time in almost a century, blacks actively participated in affairs of state.
Governor Waller and his wife, the former Carroll Overton of Jackson, are grandparents of fourteen.
William Waller continues to practice law in Jackson, Mississippi, as head of the law firm Waller & Waller, where he is engaged in trial practice in both civil and criminal cases.
The Morris W.H. (Bill) Collins Speaker Series is sponsored by MSU Libraries, MSU's John C. Stennis Institute of Government, the Stennis Center for Public Service, The Congressional and Political Research Center, and the Stennis Montgomery Association. The Collins Speaker Series brings leading figures of the day to the Mississippi State University campus to engage in close, personal discussions about they!eir lives and careers.
For more information and to listen to the event live online, visit the Morris “Bill” Collins web site located at http://library.msstate.edu/collins.
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