Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'Pic' Firmin, a small-town editor who advocated civil rights in Mississippi during the 1960s, dies

Merritt "Pic" Firmin, 69, a leading rural editor of the civil-rights era in Mississippi, died of cancer late Saturday at his home in Gulfport. (1970 photo)

From 1966 to 1975, Firmin was managing editor of The Delta Democrat Times in Greenville, "one of the few Mississippi papers that reported intolerance and wrote editorials urging change," The Associated Press reports. The paper was owned by Hodding Carter Jr., whose son Hodding Carter III told AP that Firmin "cared passionately about bringing his own region into line with the principles that created the country, and the moral teachings of all religions central to America. He followed my father's tradition in that respect: to speak loudly and carry a big stick."

In 1976, Firmin became editor of The Sun and The Daily Herald in Biloxi and then executive editor of the merged Sun Herald. Before he retired in 1991, the American Society of Newspaper Editors named the paper one of the 10 best small dailies. "I can't think of a better journalist who has a lower profile outside of the state in which he lives, when you compare expertise and accomplishments," Will Norton, dean of the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism, who worked with Firmin in Greenville, told AP. (Read more)

1 comment:

Owen Taylor and
Debra L. Ferguson
said...

At a key point in my life, Pic Firmin became a mentor. Even now, nearly 40 years later, I find myself pulling out an occasional "Firminism" to explain my rationale. What a great man! Brave, forthright, a seeker after truth.

- Owen Taylor
Rankin County, Mississippi