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Magnolia State Expatriates, Choctaw Alumni Savor Taste of Home During Mississippi on the Mall

Mississippi College alumni and friends gather in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital to celebrate Mississippi on the Mall in June 2023.
Mississippi College alumni and friends gather in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital to celebrate Mississippi on the Mall in June 2023.

Each year, a group of Mississippi College alumni gathers outdoors to catch up with one another, reminisce about their college days, enjoy catfish and sweet tea, and relish watching future Choctaws playing together in the sunshine.

It’s a homecoming scene fit for the campus Quad – but it takes place almost 1,000 miles from Clinton.

On Saturday, June 8, the Christian University will be well represented at the 33rd-annual Mississippi on the Mall at Henry Bacon Ballfield in Washington. D.C. Sponsored by the Mississippi Society of D.C., the event provides a taste of home to more than 700 former residents of the Magnolia state now living in the nation’s capital, according to Mary Elizabeth Stringer, Mississippi Society president.

“It’s a day when all Mississippians in the D.C. metro area can feel at home,” said Stringer, a 2017 Mississippi College alum and MC Alumni Association Board member who serves as a director at the American Bankers Association. “Whether rain or shine, we set up a tent, fry up some Simmons catfish, enjoy music by a live band, and enjoy coleslaw, sweet tea, caramel cake, and other Mississippi delicacies we don’t usually get in Washington.”

She said the event has grown significantly through the decades, from about 70 Mississippi expatriates to more than 10 times that number. In the shadows of the Lincoln Memorial, a group of about three dozen MC alumni and friends delight in spreading the word about all the wonderful opportunities their alma mater has to offer back home.

“Most of the universities in the state set up tables on the Mall where they can connect with their alumni,” Stringer said. “It’s a perfect opportunity for Mississippi College representatives to engage with alumni who live in the area and keep them informed about what’s going on at MC.

“Mississippi College has a substantial legal presence in D.C., largely because of the government. Some of our MC Law graduates are in the private sector here, and several work on Capitol Hill. Mississippi on the Mall provides a great opportunity to connect with those alums.”

Jake Donald, director of alumni and family engagement at MC, said members of the Alumni Association look forward to attending Mississippi on the Mall each year.

“The MC alumni community continues to grow in the D.C. area – more than 400 alumni now call it their home,” Donald said. “The annual Mississippi on the Mall provides a family friendly environment for all Mississippians to engage with each other, but more importantly, a way for the Alumni Association to connect and celebrate with the MC Alumni Family.”

The Mississippi Society of D.C. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the best interests of the state in the nation’s capital. It hosts several networking events throughout the year and encourages economic development in Mississippi.

“Our members come from every facet of the D.C. industry, including individuals who work on Capitol Hill, employees of the presidential administration, members of trade associations, participants in the lobbying world, and members of corporations,” Stringer said. “Some have lived in D.C. for more than 20 years while others have just moved here.

“Mississippi on the Mall is a great way for them to network and to connect Mississippians to each other.”

Each year, a different artist – from MC’s own internationally celebrated painter Wyatt Waters to Brookhaven resident and MC grad Edward Moak – designs original artwork that is featured during the event. This year’s featured artist is Catherine Ann Herrington Davis of Starkville, purveyor of colorful Mississippi-themed items in her popular “Hi Y’all! Made in the South” line of artwork.

Davis said she is honored to be chosen to create artwork for the 33rd-annual event.

“This event is so special for the Mississippians who live and work in Washington, D.C.,” she said. “’Mississippi on the Mall Y’all!’ is a mixed-media painting that incorporates maps of Washington, D.C. and Mississippi, Southern hymns, and family recipes by notable Mississippi queens.

“I wanted the artwork to celebrate this time-honored event while still reminding Mississippians of home.”

Signed and numbered prints of the painting will be available to purchase at the event. The artwork will also be featured on tote bags, T-shirts, and Cathead Distillery cups.

“From a small town in Mississippi to the steps of the United States Capitol Building, I believe Mississippians can hold their own with the best and brightest around the world,” Davis said. “Sweet tea, fried catfish, Southern hospitality, and good people – I know this year’s event will be the best ever.”

This year’s event will also feature additional food options from some of the state’s most popular chefs, music performed by a contemporary country band, and a separate tent space for children with engaging outdoor games.

Planning and promoting an exciting outing for hundreds of her fellow former Mississippians in the nation’s capital should be a piece of cake for Stringer. During her undergraduate career at Mississippi College, she served as senior class president, four-time Student Government Association senator, two-time president of Nenamoosha social tribe, junior and senior class Homecoming maid, president of the Women in Business Club, two-time orientation leader, four-time Scout student recruiter, student director of the Miss MC Pageant, and member of the School of Business’ Student Advisory Board.

“This is my sixth year on the MC Alumni Association Board and my second year as president of Mississippi Society of D.C.,” she said. “It has been a great privilege to give back to the state and to promote Mississippi College and all the wonderful Mississippians that we have to offer.

“This event is an opportunity for interns here for the summer, younger Mississippians, or professionals in D.C. who may be thinking about law school to see that MC has a great option for them if they move back to Mississippi. That can be said for any of MC’s other incredible graduate programs as well.”

For more information about Mississippi on the Mall or to purchase tickets, click here.