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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

Former Governor’s Honorarium Sparks Crowdfunding Campaign

Governor Winter

William Winter talks with students.

Donations will be matched to reach $20,000 goal to support UM Winter Institute


In connection with the annual Freedom Award ceremonies, the University of Mississippi is launching #WinterLegacy, a $20,000 crowdfunding campaign to cement the legacy of former Gov. William F. Winter (BA history and political science ’43 JD ’49) through the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Winter will receive the prestigious Freedom Award on Thursday (Oct. 20) from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

The former governor’s plans to dedicate the $10,000 honorarium accompanying his award to the university’s Winter Institute launched the idea for a crowdfunding campaign to build on his lifelong legacy of giving to his home state. Thanks to his generosity, every dollar contributed to #WinterLegacy, up to $10,000, generates an additional $1 to pay tribute to a true Mississippi icon.

“William Winter is a Mississippi treasure,” said Jesse L. White Jr., a 1966 UM graduate (BA history and political science) and adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina, who ran Gov. Winter’s successful gubernatorial bid in 1979.

“He’s been a mentor to me and to countless others, showing us the true meaning of service through his selfless leadership.”

This is the 25th year of the Freedom Award, and Winter is in select company. Joining him as this year’s honorees are WNBA champion and activist Swin Cash; civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump; Yemeni human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman; Damon Jerome Keith, longest serving judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court; journalist Soledad O’Brien; and Bryan Stevenson, attorney and social justice activist.

Past recipients include Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Marian Wright Edelman, Dr. Dorothy Cotton, Bob Moses, Jackie Robinson and the Dalai Lama.

Sustaining Winter’s legacy of service to Mississippi, the Winter Institute works in communities and classrooms to end discrimination based on difference. Using four programmatic pillars – youth engagement, community building, academic service and advocacy – the institute’s staff works with students, citizens and communities to help Mississippi become a welcoming place for all.

Four longtime supporters and friends of the Winter Institute are helping spread awareness of #WinterLegacy. Besides White Jr., they are Rose Jackson Flenorl, a FedEx global corporate citizenship manager; Sanford Johnson, co-founder and deputy director of advocacy at Mississippi First; and Winter’s daughter, Eleanor Winter, senior vice president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

For more information or to donate to #WinterLegacy, go to