Tony Simmons

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Award-winning author and television director Jeffrey Blount will return to Florida State University Panama City in January to discuss his latest novel, “Mr. Jimmy from Around the Way.”

Award-winning author and TV director Jeffrey Blount will speak at a ticketed
luncheon at FSU Panama City on Jan. 30, 2024.

Blount will speak to a ticketed luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 30, 2024, in the Holley Academic Center’s St. Joe Community Lecture Hall, 4750 Collegiate Drive, Panama City. The luncheon is $50 per person, which includes the meal and a signed copy of Blount’s new novel. Luncheon guests are asked to RSVP by Jan. 23 to 850-770-2168 or

After the luncheon, Blount will meet with a gathering of FSU students from 2-3 p.m.

An Emmy award-winning television director and a 2016 inductee to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, Blount directed “Meet the Press,” “The Today Show” and “NBC Nightly News.” He is also an award-winning documentary scriptwriter for films and interactives that are now on display in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as a former contributor for, The Washington Post and other outlets. 

Blount said the new novel was an attempt to illustrate the dire life of abject poverty faced in parts of the United States, an aspect of the American experience that is often overlooked or ignored.

“It’s the closest we can get to walking in another person’s shoes,” Blount said, discussing the power of fiction to create empathy in readers. “That’s why it’s my chosen vehicle to use my words with fiction to try and reach people.”
Blount is the author of three previous novels: “Almost Snow White,” winner of the 2013 USA Best Book Awards; “Hating Heidi Foster,” winner of the 2013 Readers Favorite Book Award for young adult literature; and “The Emancipation of Evan Walls,” winner of the 2020 National Indie Excellence Award for African American fiction. Born and raised in Smithfield, Va., he now lives in Washington, D.C.

“Mr. Jimmy from Around the Way” is a mesmerizing look at one man’s fall from grace and the age-old struggle for redemption. Finding himself outcast and reviled, not only by society but also by his beloved family, James Ferguson retreats to his roots, seeking to reclaim the values that brought him the success and esteem he once enjoyed. He becomes plain old “Mr. Jimmy” to his new neighbors in a poverty-stricken town in rural Mississippi, and it is there he finds the true meaning of love, respect and community.

“What I try to do is to bring the reader in through (Mr. Jimmy’s) eyes, so you can be in the shoes of those folks, feel their pain, and recognize that they are human beings,” Blount said.

In February 2020, just before the COVID-19 shutdowns began, Blount visited FSU PC while on his book tour for “The Emancipation of Evan Walls.” As part of the university’s Black History Month activities, Blount lectured on “The Power of Words” and participated in a roundtable discussion about literacy and race.
“His message really resonated with people,” said Irvin Clark, associate dean of faculty at FSU PC. 

“I believe education is so important for the success of African American children and all children,” Blount said.