When you think of the Gulf Coast, you probably think of the sunshine and being able to get a great tan on the beach. Or appreciating the beautiful sunsets while you eat fantastic food. On the flip side, you may also think of how the weather seems to turn on a dime, from that beautiful sunshine to a powerful thunderstorm. And of course, nobody can think of this area without thinking of hurricanes.
Last but not least, you may think about the great people of the Coast. The ones that chat with each other while in line at the store, or bring food to each other in times of need.
Today, I’ll be telling you about some remarkable men from our beloved Gulf Coast. From skilled artists, to impressive athletes, to great musicians, the Coast has helped to produce men that have gone on to do wonderful things. Whether they grew up here, went to school here, or moved here later in life, here are some historic men of the Coast:
Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville
Have you ever wondered why D’Iberville (the city) is named that? This 17th century explorer is the reason. He was in charge of finding a location for the capital of French Louisiana and oversaw the construction of Fort Maurepas. The location is believed to be somewhere along the back bays of Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Ocean Springs’s Fort Maurepas Park honors d’Iberville’s efforts.
George Edgar Ohr
This self-proclaimed “Mad Potter of Biloxi” was not appreciated during his time. It wasn’t until over fifty years after his death that art collectors began to take interest in his work. Known for his abstract and almost sculptural pottery, people viewed his pottery as not functional and too expensive. He always knew his work would be appreciated after his death, and now you can view some of his collection (along with other great local art) at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.
This future aviator attended high school in Gulfport, where he discovered his passion for mechanics and machinery. In 1919 he was not allowed to continue his education past the tenth grade in Mississippi, so he attended Tuskegee University in Alabama. After continuing his education and doing many great things with his career that broke ground for Black men, he encouraged Tuskegee University to begin an aviation program. For this, Robinson is known as the “Father of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
The Anderson Brothers
It feels like it would be Coastal sacrilege to not mention this widely beloved artistic family. They may not originally be from Ocean Springs, but they lived there for much of their lives. Peter Anderson, Walter Anderson, and James “Mac” Anderson are still prominent along the Coast. Peter Anderson is honored by the festival in his name each November. The Walter Anderson Museum of Art showcases some of his finest pieces that highlight local flora and fauna. All three of their impacts can be felt to this day at Shearwater Pottery, which Peter opened and where Walter and Mac worked for many years. Their molds and art styles are still used on the pottery today!
James Carroll Booker III
You may recognize this name from The 100 Men Hall’s Booker Fest – but who is this honoring? While he may have been born in New Orleans, Booker spent much of his childhood in Bay St. Louis with his aunt. This is where he discovered his love of music. He was a master of the piano by age seven and went on to master the saxophone as well. He recorded and/or toured with many musical greats, like Aretha Franklin and Fats Domino. He was known for his skill of blending classical music with jazz and blues.