JACKSON A hero of Mississippi, former Gov. William Winter, is at the University of Medical Center after falling on the ice Saturday morning in his driveway and hitting his head and suffering a concussion. He was taken by ambulance to UMMC on Saturday.
On Monday, in a statement to the media, UMMC quoted Winter's doctor saying that Gov. Winter is recovering well and should move from the neuroscience intensive care unit on Tuesday to a regular room.
Late Tuesday afternoon, UMMC messaged that "Gov. Winter is still fair, but has moved to a regular room."
Dr. Gilbert Mbeo, his neurologist and traumatic brain injury specialist, said the governor’s progress is much better than he’d expect for someone his age.
The governor “looks great,” Mbeo, an assistant professor of neurology, said Monday. “We’re watching him closely, and his scans continue to improve. That’s reassuring.”
Dick Molpus, who was a staffer in Winters' administration and went on to be secretary of state from 1984 to 1996, told the AP that the Winter family wants to express admiration and gratitude for his caregivers at UMMC, and they are thankful for messages they have received from people near and far.
"They are profoundly touched by the outpouring of support for Gov. Winter," Molpus said.
On Saturday, local attorney Dorsey Carson posted on Facebook that he and his family happened to be driving by Winter's Jackson home when the governor fell, and the Carsons stopped to help.
"Please say a prayer for Gov. William Winter, and for Elise. He slipped on his icy driveway this morning and has a head injury. By the grace of God we happened to be driving by and were able to stop and help. He is receiving emergency care now at the hospital. Words cannot describe how much that man means to me and my family," Carson posted Saturday.
Winter is a Grenada native who will turn 94 on Feb. 23. On Saturday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that Dick Molpus, a former staff member of Governor Winter and a family friend, said a neurologist told them Winter is responding well and his prognosis for recovery is good. He suffered a concussion.
Gov. Winter is known internationally for his work to fight racism and to fund and improve public education in Mississippi and beyond, becoming known as Mississippi's education governor.
Winter helped found the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in 1999 at the University of Mississippi, his alma mater.
He currently is the honorary co-chairman of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation effort, which is hosting a National Day of Healing on Jan. 17, 2017.
Winter gave the opening keynote at a convening of more than 500 participants in the TRHT effort in San Diego in early December. There, he captivated the audience from around the world by talking about what he had learned about racism as a native Mississippi who grew up in a segregationist society.
He then called on each person there to spread the word that racial healing and understanding are imperative in America and the world. We each must get friends and family members motivated to help "eliminate racism as a fact of life" in our country," he said.
Winter said that in his work in Mississippi and around the nation, he consistently has seen that most Americans want the same things for themselves and their children, including a safe community, opportunity and jobs, and good schools. He urged the audience to go home and reach out across divides, while staying firm on one thing: "We will not go back."
At the end of his talk, Winter got a standing ovation as he often does.
William, who served as governor from 1980 to 1984, is also the architect of the first substantive public-education reform in Mississippi in the Education Reform Act of 1982.
"After the legislature failed to enact his educational reforms during the regular session in 1982," historian David Sansing wrote for the Mississippi Historical Society, "Governor Winter called a special session. Under the authority given him by the state’s 1890 Constitution, Governor Winter restricted the legislation that could be introduced in that special session to education bills.
"Prior to the special session, Governor Winter and several of his aides conducted local hearings throughout the state. Those meetings generated strong grassroots support for Governor Winter’s educational reforms. The Education Reform Act, passed during that special session, is considered the most significant educational legislation enacted in Mississippi since the establishment of its public school system in 1870. A public kindergarten is the cornerstone of that law, which has been heralded throughout the nation as a model of progressive educational legislation."
Disclosures: The author is a W.K. Kellogg fellow and is on the Mississippi organizing committee for Kellogg's TRHT effort. Also, Dorsey Carson is an attorney for the Jackson Free Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.