Coahoma hosts book lecture series

The Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC) and Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale will present the Community Book Talks lecture series at the historic Cutrer Mansion on Aug. 28. The lecture series will feature veteran journalist and author Juan Williams and is free to the public.

Williams is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with the Fox News Channel. He has spent decades working with news outlets like The Washington Post, NPR and Fox News. He covered every major political campaign from 1980 to 2000 as a national correspondent and political columnist. He is also a frequent contributor to magazines, including TIME, Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, Ebony and GQ.

Sarah Crisler-Ruskey, director of Carnegie Public Library, is excited about the series.

“I feel that this lecture series has been a unique and positive addition to the cultural life of Coahoma County, and I look forward to the next installment with Juan Williams,” said Crisler-Ruskey. “I have learned from each and every one of our speakers, and I hope the community will come out and take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”

It is Williams’ work as an author that brings him to the lecture series. He is the author of six books, including the non-fiction bestseller that will be highlighted at the lecture series, during the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer — Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965.

Eyes on the Prize traces the American Civil Rights Movement from the landmark Brown versus the Board of Education case in 1954 to the march on Selma and the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. The piece tells the stories of ordinary people who participated in the movement. From leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., to lesser-known figures such as Barbara Rose John and Jim Zwerg, each man and woman made the decision that something had to be done to stop discrimination. These moving accounts are a tribute to the people, black and white, who took part in the fight for justice and the struggle they endured.

The Community Book Talks lecture series is free and open to the public thanks to community sponsor Northwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center and a special fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

The series includes a complimentary hors d’oeuvres reception (by Chris Card and The Ranchero) at 5 p.m. followed by the talk at 5:30 p.m. The speakers will also be available to sign books and talk with attendees. For more information, please visit

Director of CCHEC Jen Waller views the series as an advantage to the surrounding community members.

“We hope the Community Book Talks lecture series is a positive force in Clarksdale and Coahoma County,” said Waller. “It aims to further expose us to a world beyond small-town Mississippi by connecting us to stories and authors who make us think and remember and see more than just the everyday grind.”

The series continues through October with two more highly-anticipated author events. On Sept. 25, Mary Miller, John Grisham Writer-in-Residence at Ole Miss and author of The Last Days of California, will be featured. On Oct. 23, Lois Lowry, winner of two Newberry Awards and author of The Giver (now a major motion picture) and Number the Stars, will visit.

The Coahoma County Higher Education Center (CCHEC) is located at 109 Clark Street in Clarksdale, Mississippi. CCHEC a partnership between Delta State University and Coahoma Community College (CCC). It was designed to enhance the outreach capabilities of both institutions. The partnership encourages regional growth and development by expanding educational opportunities for the people of Coahoma County and the surrounding countie and by targeting high needs in the North Mississippi Delta region.

The purpose of the Carnegie Public Library is to provide opportunities for information, education, culture, and recreation through books, computers, videos, and other materials as well as offer library services, to the people of Clarksdale and Coahoma County. Service is available to all citizens of Coahoma County through tax support from the City of Clarksdale and the County Board of Supervisors.

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