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In this edition of Mississippi Stories, Mississippi Today Editor-At-Large Marshall Ramsey sits down with author Susan Cushman to discuss her new novel, John and Mary Margaret, her love of writing and her creative process. Cushman, who was born in Jackson and attended Ole Miss in the 1960s, now lives in Memphis, Tenn.

John and Mary Margaret is an insider’s look into the white-privilege bubble of a young girl growing up in Jackson, and participating in sorority life on the Ole Miss campus in the late 1960s. But it’s also a candid portrayal of a young Black boy from Memphis who follows his dream to study law at the predominately white university. What happens when their shared love for literature blossoms into an ill-fated romance? Set squarely in the center of decades of historical events in Mississippi and Memphis, their story brings those events to life. While a work of fiction, it is based closely on real events. 

Cushman is also the author of Friends of the LibraryCherry Bomb and Tangles and Plaques: A Mother and Daughter Face Alzheimer’s and is the editor of  Southern Writers on Writing,  A Second Blooming: Becoming the Women We Are Meant To Be and The Pulpwood Queens Celebrate 20 Years!

You can find out more about her at

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Marshall Ramsey, a nationally recognized editorial cartoonist, shares his cartoons and travels the state as Mississippi Today’s Editor-At-Large. He’s also host of a weekly statewide radio program and a television program on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and is the author of several books. Marshall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and a 2019 recipient of the University of Tennessee Alumni Professional Achievement Award.