April 9, 2017

by Rosalin Moss

The Mississippi Club





Bill Luckett


Mayor Extraordinaire


Mayor Bill Luckett - Clarksdale, Mississippi



My main reason for wanting to have a conversation with Mayor Bill Luckett was to get a feel of how things were going in Clarksdale, as related to economics, tourism and the overall state of the Clarksdale community.  It was very encouraging to hear that things are moving along nicely for Mississippi's number one blues town and tourist magnet.  I was particularly interested in tourism, which Mayor Luckett pointed out was a welcome contribution to  Clarksdale's economic health, but "agriculture is the delta's biggest asset and economic driver", he said.  The Mississippi Delta has some of the richest land you can find and produces crops such as cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and other small grains.  There is also an ample supply of fish farms in the area.  "Agricultural jobs have shifted more from manual labor to skilled workers who can handle the machinery and other tools available today", the Mayor said.  He also indicated that in addition to agricultural jobs, there were adequate jobs in other areas for skilled candidates, such as welding and carpentry, and some office and food industry jobs.    Overall, Clarksdale is progressing well, and I have no doubt that it is due to the leadership and vision of Mayor Bill Luckett.

Bill Luckett is one of those people that other people instantly like.   I met Mr. Luckett back in 2009 when I made my first road trip to Clarksdale.  I had arranged beforehand to meet with Luckett, who I knew only as one of the Ground Zero Blues Club owners, according to what I had read.  My aim was to gather material for The Mississippi Club website, and the owner of a popular blues club seemed like a good candidate to meet and write about.  I had no idea at the time that Mr. Luckett was also running for Governor of Mississippi.  I was impressed with some of the things that Mr. Luckett said that day, and especially his willingness and courage to speak about some of the hard issues that plague Mississippi.  Things like Mississippi's national ranking, poverty, racial disparity and the need for better education.  I am as certain today as I was in 2009 that Luckett's concern for Clarksdale and Mississippi is genuine and at the root of his reason for seeking public office.  Long before he became Mayor, Luckett demonstrated his love for Clarksdale by putting forth effort to improve the town's appearance by renovating old buildings and establishing businesses that helped boost tourism and community pride.   Under his leadership as Mayor of the city he loves, Clarksdale has seen many improvements throughout the community, and continues to grow as Mississippi's most popular town for tourists around the world.

Many people already know that in addition to being Clarksdale's Mayor, Luckett is a successful lawyer and businessman, including co-owner of the famed Ground Zero Blues Club, along with actor and friend Morgan Freeman, and Howard Stovall.  A lifetime member of the NAACP, Luckett is a firm believer in equal rights for all people.  I just recently learned that Luckett has also been doing some movie acting and already has several films under his theatrical belt.  One of the films, Meanwhile in Mississippi, just happens to be about equal rights, wherein Luckett plays a judge.  He was also part of the cast in the recent release of Kudzu Zombies.  You can read more about Luckett's acting accomplishments in the following links:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5795048/?ref_=nm_ov_bio_lk1 (Meanwhile In Mississippi)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2111290/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt (Delta Rising:  A Blues Documentary)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3392740/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt (Texas Heart)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5594444/ (Kudzu Zombies)

With this being an election year, Luckett will be seeking to serve another term as Clarksdale's mayor.  The primary election takes place on May 2, 2017, with the general election following on June 6, 2017.  With all of the good things happening in Clarksdale under Mayor Luckett's leadership, there seems to be no reason to change things.  Over the last five years, there has been a 3.8 percent growth in tourism, with a large percent of the tourist traffic from Australia and the United Kingdom.  "Clarksdale is the most popular city in Mississippi when it comes to international tourists", Luckett said.  Mayor Luckett has also put considerable effort into the beautification of Clarksdale by spearheading cleanup projects to remove dilapidated buildings, debris and trash from around the city.  Just recently, the Mayor invited citizens to participate in a Neighborhood Cleanup Day to pick up litter.  With the crime rate also down, the Mayor said "We are cleaning up the city figuratively and literally."  Mr. Luckett is also a longtime advocate for adequate education, which he believes is one of the major keys to eliminating poverty.  Visiting schools and spending time with students is something Luckett has been doing for a long time and is an example of his dedication to Clarksdale's youth and subsequent future of the city and Mississippi. 

You can show your support for Mr. Luckett and his re-election as Mayor of Clarksdale by visiting his Bill Luckett for Mayor 2017 Facebook page.  You can also send financial contributions to:  

Luckett for Mayor Campaign
P. O. Box 1000
Clarksdale, MS  38614

Fully aware of the Magnolia State's shortcomings, Luckett is dedicating his time and energy, his very life, to doing all that he can to help bring about the changes that need to be made so that Mississippi can realize its full potential.  Clarksdale and its rich blues foundation and current culture is a huge positive asset to Mississippi.  Luckett and his business partners helped to enhance the blues experience by establishing the Ground Zero Blues Club and other business ventures.  "More people come to Clarksdale from overseas than any other city in the state," Luckett said.  "There are 29 non-traditional lodging places in Clarksdale.  Tourism is up 2.1 percent, 3.8 percent over the last five years.  Other delta towns envy Clarksdale's tourism draw," he went on to say.  I can certainly vouch for the international tourists, because I meet several people from overseas each time I visit Clarksdale, usually right there on the front porch of the Ground Zero Blues Club.  People come from all over to enjoy the authentic blues experience that Clarksdale has to offer.  I read recently that Luckett said, "The delta's music is America's gift to the world." 

It is hard to come up with many original questions for someone like Mr. Luckett, but I was curious about what someone like him did in their free time, so I asked him.  He said, "I do not have much downtime but I like golf, fishing and watching the Mississippi River flow by from the porch of my cabin on the river."  I sure hope he gets to do more of that!

As I talked with Mr. Luckett, I could sense the love and pride this man has for Clarksdale, the delta and Mississippi, and his desire to promote a positive image of the Magnolia State.  He also cares about people.  Even with his busy schedule, he carved out a few minutes to chat with me, which is a testimony to the character of Mayor Bill Luckett.  He is the same now as he was back in 2009, approachable, straightforward, and a true southern gentleman.  I have not met Mrs. Luckett, but I would love to chat with the woman behind this extraordinary man.  A man who has helped to make Clarksdale a beacon that draws people from around the world, people seeking to experience something they cannot find anywhere else on the planet.  There is no doubt that Clarksdale is the delta's brightest jewel, or that Bill Luckett, Clarksdale's Mayor Extraordinaire,  is a "master jeweler" who has helped to shape Clarksdale into what it is today.


--Rosalin Moss aka Mississippi Traveler

April 9, 2017