Congressman Thompson highlights Winning the Race

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, Faculty/Staff, General, Students | No Comments

Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson is sure to a provide a riveting speech as the highlight presenter on day two of Delta State University’s Winning the Race conference on March 19.

Introduced as a new program open to the public and titled “Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community,” the seminar will place special emphasis on student-level concerns, but will also offer a wide selection of sessions for all attendees — including such topics as Civil Rights history, education, religion, healthcare and multi-cultural sensitivity.

Thompson, a product of the Civil Rights movement, will speak at 8:30 a.m. inside the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus.

“I am pleased by Delta State University’s efforts to promote diversity and community,” said Thompson. “This is a timely discussion, as this year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the events surrounding Freedom Summer.

“Although significant progress has been made to encourage inclusion, continuing the conversation around diversity is the only way to bring communities together to foster a better environment.”

Congressman Thompson has spent his entire life giving a voice to the voiceless. His 45 years of public service are a testament to his unwavering dedication to fulfill and exceed the expectations of the constituents of the Second Congressional District of Mississippi.

A native of rural Bolton, Miss., Thompson has always been aware of the realities that plague the South. Viewing the experiences his family endured firsthand became the catalyst for his passion to help the underserved.

During the Civil Rights era, Thompson joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and helped organize voter registration drives for African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta. Thompson then followed in the footsteps of his mother and worked as a schoolteacher. It was during this time that he began to aggressively pursue a career in politics. He is now the longest-serving African-American elected official in the state of Mississippi.

The congressman is serving his 11th term in for the state, and he is the only Democrat in the Mississippi Congressional Delegation. His voting record is indicative of his determination to be an activist for reform.

Thompson employs a progressive, yet realistic, approach to overcoming disparities while being an unabashed champion for civil rights, equal education and healthcare reform for Mississippi. To learn more about Bennie Thompson, visit

The two-day Winning the Race conference will provide an innovative academic environment focusing on race relations and diversity. For a full schedule of events, visit


Delta State University wins at AFA Awards

By | Alumni, Faculty/Staff, General | No Comments

Delta State University’s Office of Communications and Marketing brought home eight medals from the American Advertising Federation (AAF) at the Mississippi Delta/American Advertising Awards (AAA) District Seven awards ceremony in Greenville.

The AAA is the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 40,000 entries every year in local AAF club competitions. The mission of the AAA competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.

The university’s award total included one gold, six silvers and one bronze.

Special individual recognition was awarded to Delta State’s graphic designer and brand manager Laura Walker, who took home Designer of the Year.

The Office of Communications and Marketing team consists of Vice President for University Relations Michelle Roberts, coordinator Caitlyn Thompson, graphic designer and brand manager Laura Walker, news writer/photographer Rory Doyle, web designer/writer April Mondy, senior secretary Bevin Lamb, student illustrator Charles Taylor and student graphic design students Maria Alejandra Torres, Elizabeth Vaughn and Brittany Benford.

The gold was awarded for the William N. LaForge Inauguration campaign featuring integrated media. Silvers were granted for the 2013 Delta State Pig Pickin’ poster, the William N. LaForge Inauguration invitation set, awareness billboards, photOKRAphy photo campaign and “Even Turkeys Fear the Okra” advertising.

A bronze was given for the awareness billboard ads.

“The staff and students in the Communications and Marketing Office, led by coordinator Caitlyn Thompson, are a group of amazingly talented and energetic professionals,” said Roberts. “I am incredibly excited that they have received the recognition they so richly deserve. Laura Walker, the senior staff member on the team, should win ‘Designer of the Year’ at every event. She sets high standards for her work and those of her students, and she achieves them every time. I am very proud of this team.”

Delta State President William N. LaForge also praised the office for its recognition at the event.

“I am so very proud of our Communications and Marketing department for the high quality of work they do that has been rightfully recognized by their being selected as AAA award winners,” said LaForge. “To win one or two awards in various categories is an amazing feat, and our wonderfully talented staff took home eight awards as well as our graphic designer, Laura Walker, taking the top award as Designer of the Year. Like so many professionals who make the Delta State family what it is, these colleagues make us very proud.”

A special thanks is extended to Delta State’s Office of Alumni and Foundation for their support and encouragement throughout the design year.

To learn more about the AAF, visit

Civil Rights experts lead Winning the Race

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, General, President, Students | No Comments

Two leaders with historic ties to Mississippi promise to share words of wisdom March 18 as Delta State University introduces its progressive new program, “Winning the Race:  A Conference on Diversity and Community.”

The two-day conference will provide an innovative academic environment focusing on race relations and diversity.

Keynote speakers kicking off the event are the honorable Gov. William Winter and Dr. John Dittmer, former professor of history at Tougaloo College — both nationally recognized authorities on the civil rights movement.

They will share their knowledge of race relations as the speeches begin at 6 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center on Delta State’s campus.

The two first met in the summer of 1969 when Dittmer was teaching at Tougaloo. At the time, Winter was heavily involved with Mississippi politics, having unsuccessfully run for governor in 1967 as a moderate democrat seen as an integrationist. By the time Winter successfully ran for governor in 1980, Dittmer had left the state and was teaching in New England.

While their career paths may not have been closely knit after their initial meeting, they continue to share mutual admiration for their career efforts in racial reconciliation.

“Over the years, we have met from time to time at conferences and I admire him tremendously,” said Dittmer. “From afar, I looked back at Mississippi with pride and amazement during Winter’s gubernatorial years.”

Dittmer would go on to publish “Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi,” which received the Bancroft Prize, the Lillian Smith Book Award for Nonfiction and the McLemore Prize from the Mississippi Historical Society.

Winter developed into one of the state’s most historic political leaders for backing desegregation and racial equality. However, Winter said if he could turn back time, he would have taken an even stronger stance against old Southern politics.

“It was politically unwise at the time to preach full desegregation, and I wish I had the freedom to be as aggressive of an activist as Dittmer,” said Winter.

“At this conference, I think you will hear two speakers who had very different professional freedoms during that era,” added Winter. “Looking back, I wish I had been able to be more outspoken. I admire John Dittmer because he is respected as an activist and academic expert of the Civil Rights movement.”

But Dittmer also commends Winter for continuing to make a significant impact in the Magnolia State.

“In recent years, Winter has been at the forefront of social change in Mississippi, serving on President Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race Relations, and more importantly, with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss,” said Dittmer. “Mr. Winter is not afraid to wade into controversy on racial matters.  His taking a lead role in the unsuccessful effort to take the stars and bars off the state flag is just one example.

“I eagerly look forward to hearing him speak because he speaks about Mississippi’s troubled past and potential for the future better than anyone else.”

Winter agreed the conference will provide a platform to openly discuss the racial barriers that still impact the South, and America, to this day.

“The task we have now is to eliminate racism wherever, whenever, however it appears — not to condone the acceptance of racial slurs and to eliminate disrespect on the basis of race,” said Winter. “It’s a big challenge for us now, to find those areas where people still do not work together, still do not respect each other to the extent that they should.”

The keynoters both praised Delta State for taking the initiative to bring this dialogue to the forefront, as the institution is a beacon of multicultural identity in the Mississippi Delta.

“I really look forward to this conference,” said Dittmer. “The 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer gives us an opportunity to reflect on our past and to celebrate the contributions of those local people who risked their lives to take charge of their destiny, and in so doing changed the state in important and positive ways.”

“Delta State is located in the heart of an area known for having the strongest defenders of segregation in our country,” said Winter. “The university has a unique opportunity, and responsibility, to provide leadership that will eliminate the areas that will continue to divide us, in terms of racism.”

For a full schedule of Winning the Race events, visit

SAM Program announces raffle winner

By | General, Students, Uncategorized | No Comments

Delta State University’s School-based Asthma Management Program (SAM) recently presented Satoria Hall, of Cleveland, with a check for winning the 50/50 Bear Bucks Raffle. Hall received 50 percent of the proceeds from the raffle.

The remaining 50 percent will support SAM projects such as Wheezy Bear Asthma Education appearances in the local schools; Wheezy Bear Asthma Camp — a five day summer day camp; and Asthma Academy held at the United Family Life Center in partnership with the Cleveland Park Commission Summer Program and Rescue Me Boot Camps for parents of students with asthma. All projects are interactive, fun and designed to provide information and knowledge to help children manage their asthma at home and school.

This year, the raffle was held in honor of Judith N. Winford, SAM’s asthma resource nurse. Winford personally suffered from asthma, which fashioned an even greater passion and desire to help others manage and control asthma, especially children. Winford passed away on Dec. 22, 2013.

For more information about Delta State’s School-based Asthma Management program, call (662)-846-4807 or (662)-846-4784.

Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community

By | Academics, Bologna Performing Arts Center, Community, Delta Center, Faculty/Staff, General, President, Students | No Comments

In the shadow of America’s not-so-distant and collective history, the scars of Jim Crow continue to dim perspectives on race, especially in the Mississippi Delta. In response, Delta State University continues down the path of international distinction with its announcement of an innovative academic conference focusing on race relations and diversity.

Introduced as a new program that is open to the public and titled “Winning the Race: A Conference on Diversity and Community,” the seminar is scheduled for March 18-19.

The conference will place special emphasis on student-level concerns, but will also offer a wide selection of sessions for all attendees — including such topics as Civil Rights history, education, religion, healthcare and multi-cultural sensitivity.

The Winning the Race Committee developed the conference with three overarching goals: engage in conversations with campus and community constituencies that will build an appreciation for diversity differences and a spirit of community through shared ideas; promote a broad discourse on race relations by building conversations to bring together diverse communities in the Delta through sharing of ideas and building cooperation; and to rekindle a hope that Delta communities will move toward greater equality and reduce racial disparities and tensions.

Georgene Clark, committee chair, has been working hard to open dialogue about race, assumptions and fears — in hopes that others will fill the silence by soliciting ideas and building cooperation.

“With its diverse population, Delta State is the obvious choice to take the lead when it comes to issues of race and diversity,” said Clark. “The purpose of this conference is to begin the conversation about race and race relations, and to encourage its continuation in an effort to foster a climate of inclusiveness through a shared appreciation and better understanding of our differences.

“It is our hope that this conference will be the catalyst for building an even stronger spirit of cooperation and community — both on campus and beyond.”

Winning the Race is something President William N. LaForge has strongly advocated for since taking office in April of 2013.

“This conference is exactly what Delta State should be doing as a leader in the Delta and the state,” said LaForge. “While classroom instruction is our first mission, we have a responsibility to host and lead programs and dialogue involving key social and cultural issues.

“This conference will engage our students and faculty with others who can enlighten and advance our understanding and appreciation for our differences and our common challenges. I look forward to a healthy and open dialogue that showcases Delta State as the academic leader we are.”

The schedule kicks off with two distinguished Mississippi political leaders who are both recognized for their work on race relations in the Magnolia State — the honorable Gov. William F. Winter and Congressman Bennie Thompson.

Winter has served Mississippi in numerous official capacities, including Governor from 1980–1984, Lt. Governor from 1972–1976, Mississippi State Treasurer from 1964–1968, Mississippi State Tax Collector from 1956–1964 and Representative in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1948–1956.

He is remembered for his dedication to racial equality, and in June of 1997, Winter was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a member of the National Advisory Board on Race Relations. He is also credited with the establishment of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation on the University of Mississippi’s Oxford campus. Staff from the institute will be leading a number of activities at the conference.

The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation works in communities and classrooms, in Mississippi and beyond, to support a movement of racial equity and wholeness as a pathway to ending and transcending all division and discrimination based on difference.

Thompson, who has been in office as the District 2 congressman since 1993, has long been known for his work with race relations and giving a voice to the voiceless. He is the longest-serving African-American elected official in the state of Mississippi.

As a product of the Civil Rights movement, Thompson has supported bills that aim to improve the health of minority individuals, and has fought to increase the presence of minorities in the financial services industry, along with minorities and women in upper level positions of management.

LaForge will welcome these keynoters with an opening session at 6 p.m. on March 18 at the Bologna Performing Arts Center on campus. Delta Music Institute students will provide musical selections between speakers, followed by hors d’oeuvres and a performance by the DMI band Ole Skool Revue.

The following day begins at 8:30 a.m. in the BPAC with a presentation titled “Sharing Responsibility and Claiming Ownership” by John Dittmer, an award-winning author, professor emeritus of history at DePauw University and a nationally recognized authority on the Civil Rights movement.

Dittmer’s book “Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi,” won the following awards: Bancroft Prize in American History; Lillian Smith Book Award, Southern Regional Council; McLemore Prize, Mississippi Historical Society; and the 1995 Outstanding Book on the subject of human rights in North America given by the Gustavus Myers Center.

A number of other key speakers will highlight the full day of activities, including Leland Speed’s speech “Making the Economic and Business Case for Racial Healing and Equality” in room 302A of the H.L. Nowell Student Union. Speed, who once served as executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, is recognized as an economics and business icon and in 1998 was named to the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame.

Cetin Oguz, art professor and native of Turkey, has been an active Winning the Race committee member and is thrilled to see this conference come to life at Delta State.

“Discussion of these topics is very important in our region and also our nation,” said Oguz. “Our goal is to spark meaningful conversation about social issues that are sometimes difficult to discuss. Developing this conference shows that Delta State has a willingness to understand the significance of diversity and equality.”

For a full schedule of panels and discussions, visit

Delta State will continue to advance conference achievements through post-event activities and will harmonize them in a second conference in 2015 and on an annual basis thereafter.

Winning the Race Committee members include: Georgene Clark, chair; Garry Jennings, chair; Paulette Meikle-Yaw, chair; Luther Brown; Reagan Dilmore; Teresa Houston; Charles McAdams; Davlon Miller; Allan Mitchell; Billy Moore; Cetin Oguz; Henry Outlaw; Arlene Sanders; Myrtis Tabb; Tricia Walker; Sam Washington; Leigh E. Korb; and Michelle Roberts.

Sponsors for the conference include: AT&T, Delta State Diversity Committee, Delta State Quality Enhancement Plan, Aramark and the Delta Center for Culture and Learning (DCCL). The DCCL utilized an endowment established by Watt Bishop in the names of Amzie Moore and Sam Block. Earnings from this endowment will be used as a $2,500 challenge grant. The endowment resides within the Delta State University Foundation.