Catfish Dream centers around the experiences, family, and struggles of Ed Scott Jr. (born in 1922), a prolific farmer in the Mississippi Delta and the first ever nonwhite owner and operator of a catfish plant in the nation.
It provides a fascinating portrait of a place through an intimate biography of Scott, a hero at once so typical and so exceptional in his community.
series editor

"Catfish Dream is a significant resource on the history of race in the Mississippi Delta. Julian Rankin eloquently describes how Ed Scott courageously struggles with the bureaucracy of racism, only to discover that the system is embedded in our society at both the local and the national levels. Most important, Rankin shows how Scott and his family resisted and ultimately defeated that system." 


— William Ferris

author of The South in Color: A Visual Journey


Mr. Ed Scott is a hero our country needs to learn about, and this portrait of him is strong and beautifully written. His situation and his fate are central to the American experiment.
I cannot recommend Mr. Rankin’s storytelling too highly.

It is a powerful thing. We owe him a debt.”

— Randall Kenan
author of The Fire This Time

September 10, 2018


In this original essay for Southern Spaces, Julian Rankin writes about the making of his book Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018), a portrait of a prolific...

July 16, 2018

This episode of the Southern Foodways Alliance Gravy Podcast is adapted from the book Catfish Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta by Julian Rankin (published by University of Georgia Press; Southern Foodways Alliance...

May 29, 2018

(from legends magazine)

By Julian Rankin

Photography by Marianne Todd

There’s something in the water that fueled Muddy Waters. Something incomprehensible about the past that kept Faulkner up at night. Something spiritual that inspired Leontyne Price. Something mad that mo...

December 13, 2017

(from Find it in Fondren)

Illustration by Scott Allen

William Winter was nine-years-old when he first sat in the governor’s chair. It was 1932. He had accompanied his father, a state senator, to the inauguration of Mississippi Governor Mike Conner, and was visiting Conne...

December 3, 2017

(from legends magazine)

By Julian Rankin

Photography by Marianne Todd

Next door to the Civil Rights Museum, in the Museum of Mississippi History, the clock is three and one-eighth inches wide and one and five-eighths inches tall. A small brass cylinder, the top slides ope...

December 2, 2017

(from legends magazine)

By Julian Rankin

Photography by Rory Doyle

Cell service is weak in the Mississippi Delta, but the characters are strong. Madge and Billy Howell of Clarksdale have built their business on that truism. The idea for the enterprise, Delta Bohemian, cam...

October 28, 2017

We lobotomized two gourds, the neighbor and I and our three-year-old boys. The two boys were eager to saw the tops off. The neighbor held the handle of the serrated blade so our sons could make the motions. Little Julian struggled with the spoon to scoop out the innard...

October 12, 2017

(from legends magazine)


By Julian Rankin

Photography by Marianne Todd

The material things we own, as sure as the chromosomes within us, are maps to who we are. Or, as Ben Box of the Meridian, Mississippi-based Benjamin E. Box Estate Sales puts it, “You learn more about p...

September 17, 2017

Unwritten Memoir by Randy Hayes, now on view at the University of Mississippi Museum in Oxford, explores the artist’s life through photography, painting, and collected memento, with works and objects from multiple bodies of work spanning more than two decades. True to...

May 24, 2017

Writing by Julian Rankin. Photographs by Tom Rankin.

You’ll hear a lot of things about the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is many things.

For a documentary photographer like Tom Rankin, it’s a place where more happens outside the frame of the nationally-televised bro...

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