NORTH MISSISSIPPI 465 emphasis on polyrhythms, the style deviated from the more famous Delta Blues. Burnside absorbed this tradition, as well as the influences of John Lee Hooker, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and his cousin-in-law Muddy Waters. Burnside, along with tens of thousands of rural African American Mississippians, migrated to Chicago in search of a better life. Tragedy struck Burnside—in the space of one year his father, two brothers, and two uncles were murdered. Burnside returned to Mississippi, living as a sharecropper and commercial fisherman in the Tallahatchie River. In an account straight out of a blues song, Burnside killed a man during a dice game and was sent to Parchman Prison in the Delta. Burnside would later claim that he spent only six months incarcerated because his old boss needed him to drive tractors on his plantation. Burnside spent his remaining four decades in Marshall and Tate Counties, settling near Holly Springs. Burnside continued to play acoustic rural blues at juke joints and house parties. His earliest known recording are in the late 1960s to small folk labels. In 1969 he played with Hooker and Hopkins at a Montreal blues festival and toured small clubs in Europe. However, it was with Fat Possum Records that Burnside attained widespread recognition. His records featured what he called the “Burnside style,” favoring a singular, repetitive chord with a pounding bass line throughout the song. Burnside experimented with blending the blues with more modern styles such as electronica and techno. In an interview Burnside claimed, “All the rap kids and the rock kids are now trying to play the blues, because they realize that’s what started all of this.” He died in 2005 in Memphis, with funeral services held at Rust College. Although born in Arkansas, John Grisham is Mississippi’s most popular author. Grisham’s family moved to Southaven in 1967 when he was twelve years old. Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University. He then attended the University of Mississippi Law School, graduating with a law degree, and returned to Southaven where he practiced law for a decade. Grisham was elected as a Democrat to the Mississippi House in 1983 and served the 7th District, including DeSoto County, until 1990. The turning point of his life, like one of his novels, was a victim’s dramatic courtroom testimony. In 1984, he sat in the back row in the DeSoto County courthouse and listened to the testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim. “Her testimony was gut-wrenching, graphic, heartbreaking, and riveting. Every juror was crying. I remember staring at the defendant and wishing I had a gun. And with that, a story was born.” His first crime novel, A Time to Kill, was not completed until three years later and was not published until after twenty-eight rejections. In 1989, it was printed in a limited run of 5,000 copies by a small, regional press. However, Grisham’s next novel, The Firm, spent forty-seven weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list. As of 2012, Grisham’s novels have sold 275 million copies worldwide and been adapted into nine films. Grisham owns a home just outside Oxford and makes generous contributions to Ole Miss, including the John and Renee Grisham Writers in Residence Scholarship. When Robert Khayat delivered his 1996 inaugural address as the fifteenth chancellor of the University of Mississippi, it represented a new era in the school’s history. Khayat, a Rebel football player and graduate of the University, had played a number of years in the National Football League and served as a law professor. He initiated a long term plan to transform the University into, in his words, “one of America’s Great Public Universities.” The campaign focused on aggressive fund raising and expansion. In his opening speech, he announced the largest single donation in the school’s history, $5.4 million from Jim and Sally McDonnell Barksdale, for the new Honors College. The new Honors College, along with a program of increased library holdings and faculty salaries, was essential to gain a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, after decades of rejections. But a Phi Beta Kappa chapter was merely a part of a greater transformation. As important, the university needed to demonstrate it could progress beyond a controversial past. As Khayat stated in a CBS interview, the university “is not the last bastion of the Confederacy, nor are we the national repository for racial guilt. We are a modern, progressive university with a long and rich history.” Khayat’s ambition was to make the school competitive with the nation’s leading state funded universities. To accomplish that, he believed the university needed to begin the painful process of shedding overt symbols of the Confederacy in order to grow and prosper. Khayat faced bitter attacks claiming that he was When Robert Khayat delivered his 1996 inaugural address as the fifteenth chancellor of the University of Mississippi, it represented a new era in the school’s history.