Faculty member’s award-winning film on Mississippi politico Steve Holland premieres March 20 at MSU

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Rex Jones, left, and Steve Holland at the Mississippi Historical Society awards ceremony.
Rex Jones, left, and Steve Holland at the Mississippi Historical Society awards ceremony. (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State communication faculty member—with two recent projects on the state’s history lauded with awards—is premiering his documentary “Steve Holland: Jesus Was a Democrat” this month on McComas Hall’s mainstage.

Rex Allan Jones, assistant professor of broadcast and digital journalism, is screening his award-winning short film and welcoming the production’s featured subject—former state legislator Holland—on March 20, at 3 p.m.

The free, public presentation will include in-depth and traditionally colorful conversations with Holland, as well as Marty Wiseman, retired MSU political science professor and former director of the university’s Stennis Institute of Government. 

Jones recently won a Mississippi Historical Society Award of Merit for the film, which honors the life and times of Holland, an MSU alumnus, longtime North Mississippi representative serving the 16th district, and 50-year mortuary maven.

“When I was a computer engineering major taking public speaking in McComas years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to return as a faculty member in the communication department and show this film about Steve Holland, a fellow MSU alumnus who has lived a generous life of public service for this institution and Mississippi by virtue of his 36 years as a former state representative from Lee County,” said Jones, a 1992 MSU graduate with an MBA who earned a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering.

“As a documentary filmmaker, I have learned the importance of getting stories while we still can—before people and places are gone,” said Jones, who also holds an MFA in science and natural history filmmaking from Montana State University.

Jones’ additional MHS Award of Merit was for another film featuring Holland, “Libation & Legislation,” which outlines the conflict the state of Mississippi encountered after acquiring the Sun n’ Sand motel in 2019, with intentions to demolish it and build a parking lot.

“Steve Holland: Jesus was a Democrat” is a 2024 copyright of the Southern Documentary Project, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi.

Jones’ films will be exhibited this spring at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and at UM. They also will be submitted to the National Educational Television Association, which will make them available for broadcast nationwide by any subscribing PBS affiliate.

The trailer for “Steve Holland: Jesus Was a Democrat” is available for viewing on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64_OP4SPUMM.

For more about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences or the Department of Communication, visit www.cas.msstate.edu or www.comm.msstate.edu.

Mississippi State University is taking care of what matters. Learn more at www.msstate.edu.