A new Mississippi Writers Trail marker has been unveiled at the Rail Spike Trail in Greenwood, memorializing the artistic contributions of civil rights activist and author Endesha Ida Mae Holland.
The author of six plays, Holland is best known for her autobiographical work, From the Mississippi Delta, which earned her a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1988.
“Endesha Ida Mae Holland is an important voice in the chorus of Mississippi authors. She was able to translate the difficulties of her childhood into a celebrated story of hardship, dreams, and accomplishment,” Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray said. “The markers along the Mississippi Writers Trail each have a story to tell about our community and the remarkable people who continue to shape the story of the Magnolia State.”
Born in 1944, Holland’s life in Greenwood began to change while she worked as a volunteer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She would eventually earn a Ph.D. in American studies in 1986 before serving as a professor of theater at the University of Southern California.
In addition to her plays, Holland wrote a memoir — also entitled From the Mississippi Delta — that was published in 1997. She passed away in 2006.
“When you learn about the life that Ida Mae Holland was born to, it is incredibly uplifting to see how far she came as a teacher and playwright,” Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams said. “Coming from such a difficult background to earn advanced degrees and accolades for her writing, her story is proof positive of how much can be accomplished through grit and determination.”
The marker, which is now located on Johnson Street in Greenwood between Fulton Street and Howard Street, was unveiled by Kristen Brandt of the Mississippi Arts Commission on Tuesday.
Notable attendees included Mayor McAdams, Mississippi State Senator David Jordan, Leflore County Supervisor Reginald Moore, and Jeanette Cunningham Jones, who is a friend of the author.