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Winning the Race

Winning the Race returns to campus March 26-27

By | Community, Diversity Committee, President, Winning the Race | No Comments

Delta State University’s award-winning race relations conference Winning the Race returns to campus for a fifth year on March 26-27.

This year’s conference theme, “Intersectionalities in Action: The Quest for Equity, Access, and Justice,” is presented in partnership and with support from Casey Family Programs and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Conference topics will highlight the various ways in which race and race relations intersect areas of our daily lives — from politics, economics, health and housing, to education, entertainment, art and science.

The inaugural program, spearheaded by Delta State President William N. LaForge in 2014, was designed as an innovative, academic conference with a focus on engaging, promoting and rekindling conversations in hopes that Delta-area communities can move toward greater equity, forward thinking and reduced racial tensions.

In recognition of this work, the university received the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice Award accepted by LaForge at the fourth National Civil Rights Conference in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

“I am looking forward to Delta State’s fifth annual Winning the Race conference with great anticipation,” said LaForge. “This year’s program will center on the themes of equity, access and justice — key ingredients of the notions of fairness and opportunity that should be equally available to all in our society. Discussions about the intersection of these issues will hopefully lead to ideas and actions that will help improve race relations and understanding across the board in the Delta.”

The 2018 schedule will continue the critical dialogue about current issues related to education, social justice and community healing, while highlighting opportunities for sustained community action, awareness and mobility.

“In planning this year’s conference activities, planning committee members have worked hard to focus on creating opportunities for attendees to better understand how race intersects and impacts various areas of our collective and individual lives,” said Dr. Temika Simmons, conference co-chair and director of Delta State’s new Local Government Leadership Institute. “Conversations about race are not reserved for people of color only. They are conversations that we must all become comfortable with in order to dismantle the attitudes, systems and inequities that marginalize groups, inoculate stereotypes, separate communities and breed hate.”

Simmons said the conversations and points of actions scheduled for presentation at this year’s conference are as relevant now as they have always been.

“We challenge the entire Delta State campus and Mississippi community to join us again in March as we continue this work to improve our campus, the Delta community, and the state of Mississippi,” she added. “With help from the Mississippi Humanities Council, we will again host a high school leadership forum with a unique message and activities for area high school students. In addition, we will provide opportunities for professional development credits for teaching and counseling professionals in our efforts to continue to push the conference initiative beyond dialogue to tangible action and outcomes.”

Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, conference co-chair and associate professor of history, is looking forward to another conference of meaningful discussions.

“By fostering dialogue on race relations and providing a platform to discuss solutions to the challenges we face, Winning the Race performs a valuable service not only to the Delta State campus and the broader Mississippi Delta, but to our state and beyond,” said Westmoreland. “Sessions will feature distinguished activists and scholars who will explore the myriad of ways race intersects with other identities such as gender, class, region, nationality and sexuality.”

“Above all, we want conference attendees to know that they have a vital role to play in the many pressing issues and conversations of our time,” added Westmoreland. “Each year, I am most excited to take part in and observe the Q&A following each session and the overall interactions between conference attendees. These moments are where we take the ideas explored in the various sessions and apply them in our ongoing work to build more equitable and inclusive communities.”

A highlight speaker for the 2018 conference is Kevin Powell, a political activist, poet, writer and entrepreneur. Powell, one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary and hip-hop voices in America today, is a native of Jersey City, New Jersey.

Raised by a single mother in extreme poverty, he managed to study at Rutgers University thanks to New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Fund. Powell has gone on to author 12 books, including his newest title, “The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood.”

His writings have also appeared in CNN.com, Esquire, Ebony, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, ESPN.com and Vibe Magazine, where he worked for many years as a senior writer, interviewing diverse public figures such as Tupac Shakur and General Colin Powell.

Powell has lectured extensively, both domestically and abroad, on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with notable and well-regarded national appearances, including on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Later this year, he will publish a biography of Shakur, the late rapper and controversial American icon.

Conference organizers are also proud to welcome civil rights activist David “Dave” Dennis. A participant in the first Freedom Bus ride from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi in 1961 and 1964’s Freedom Summer, Dennis served as co-director of the Council of Federated Organizations in Mississippi. Raised in Louisiana by sharecropper grandparents, Dennis worked closely with Bob Moses and Medgar Evers in Mississippi in the 1960s.

While conducting voter registration workshops throughout the South, a bout with bronchitis prevented Dennis from riding in the car with the three civil rights workers he was training — James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman — the night they were killed by Ku Klux Klan members on a back road in Neshoba County, Mississippi. Dennis would go on to speak at Chaney’s funeral. He currently serves on the advisory board for the Andrew Goodman Foundation, whose vision is that “young people will become active, engaged citizens who ensure a peaceful, just and sustainable future.”

Also speaking is novelist Nick White, a native Mississippian, Delta State alumnus, and author of the novel “How to Survive a Summer.” White is an assistant professor of English at Ohio State University’s MFA program in creative writing. His short stories, poems and essays have appeared in a variety of places, including The Kenyon Review, Guernica, The Hopkins Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. His short story collection, “Sweet & Low,” will be published later this year.

In addition to stellar speakers, leaders from around the state and nation will facilitate breakout sessions covering intersections across various topics related to social justice, civil rights and law, economic opportunities, education and community, and culture and community.

Additional activities include a poster competition for college students, a special presentation by Memphis hip-hop artist Marco Pave, and artistic and academic presentations by campus faculty, staff, students and members of the community.

The university will kick off this year’s conference with an open house and press conference on March 25 from 2-6 p.m. at the Amzie Moore House Museum and Interpretive Center located at 614 S. Chrisman Ave. in Cleveland, where local civil rights leaders and veterans will be recognized and honored.

Conference activities will begin on campus at 8 a.m. on March 26 in the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State. Conference updates, registration and additional information are available at http://www.deltastate.edu/winning-the-race/.

“We are especially thankful for the generous support of Casey Family Programs and the Mississippi Humanities Council,” said Westmoreland. “Their kind contributions enable us to make this conference a forum where many voices are heard and all are welcome.”

Registration for the event opens Feb. 1 at http://www.deltastate.edu/winning-the-race.

For questions, or more information, contact Simmons at tsimmons@deltastate.edu.

Highlight video from Winning the Race conference

By | Academics, Community, President, Winning the Race | No Comments

Delta State University hosted its fourth annual Winning the Race conference on March 28-29.

This year’s conference, “Winning the Race: Advancing Education in the Mississippi Delta,” was presented in partnership with the Casey Family Programs and the Mississippi Humanities Council and focused on identifying educational inequities and strengthening educational opportunities in the Mississippi Delta.

The inaugural program, spearheaded by Delta State President William N. LaForge in 2014, was designed as an innovative academic conference with a focus on engaging, promoting and rekindling conversations in hopes that Delta-area communities can move toward greater equity, forward thinking and reduced racial tensions.

In recognition of this work, the university received the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice Award accepted by LaForge at the fourth National Civil Rights Conference in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

Highlight speakers for the 2017 conference included Dr. Ivory Toldson, president and CEO of the Quality Education for Minorities Network, and Dr. William C. Bell, a Delta State graduate and president and CEO of Casey Family Programs.

The soundtrack for the video is an original song written and produced by students in the Delta Music Institute at Delta State. Performing the song is Audrianna Johnson, the 2015-16 Fighting Okra Records artist. The song was written by Johnson, Travis Calvin, Eric Johnson, Justin Boatman and Jessica Wishard, and Calvin served as the producer. It was recorded in Studio C at the DMI building on campus.

Winning the Race returns March 27-28

By | Academics, Community, Faculty/Staff, President, Students, Winning the Race | No Comments
2017 Winning The Race Committee member include: (front, left to right) Dr. Rolando Herts, Dr. Billy Moore, Dr. Lekeitha Morris, Tricia Walker, Georgene Clarke, Jeanna Wilkes and Dr. Temika Simmons. Back (l to r): Dr. Charles Westmoreland, Dr. David Breaux, Sam Washington, Michelle Johansen and Davlon Miller. Members not pictured: Bryce Anderson, Dr. David Baylis, Dr. George Beals, Travis Calvin, Jondelyn Catlette, Dr. Edwin Craft, Dr. Ellen Green, Dr. Leslie Griffin, Matthew Harris, Dr. Garry Jennings, Elizabeth Joel, Paula Lindsey, Michael Lipford, Don Allan Mitchell, Cleveland Phinisee, Arlene Sanders, Jeremiah Smith, Dr. Myrtis Tabb (ex-officio), Jenn Keathley and Chante Willis.

Delta State University’s award-winning conference Winning the Race returns to campus for the fourth year on March 27-28.

Conference updates, registration and additional information are available at http://www.deltastate.edu/winning-the-race/.

This year’s conference, “Winning the Race: Advancing Education in the Mississippi Delta,” is presented in partnership with the Casey Family Programs and the Mississippi Humanities Council and will focus on identifying educational inequities and strengthening educational opportunities in the Mississippi Delta.

The inaugural program, spearheaded by Delta State President William N. LaForge in 2014, was designed as an innovative academic conference with a focus on engaging, promoting and rekindling conversations in hopes that Delta-area communities can move toward greater equity, forward thinking and reduced racial tensions.

“I am very much looking forward to another outstanding race relations conference, with a program I’m advised will be top flight,” said LaForge. “From the special speakers, breakout sessions and general discussion topics, this conference promises to be another great success.”

“While our conference is not conducted in reaction to anything in the current political climate, it certainly comes at an appropriate time to contribute to the national, regional and local dialogue on how we get along in society,” added LaForge.

In recognition of this work, the university received the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice Award accepted by LaForge at the fourth National Civil Rights Conference in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

The 2017 schedule will continue the critical dialogue about current issues related to education, social justice and community healing, while highlighting opportunities for sustained community action, awareness and mobility.

“This year’s conference will provide attendees with the tools to engage in not only the dialogue, but the work of strengthening the educational community and infrastructure in and around the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Temika M. Simmons, assistant professor of psychology and conference chair. “Unique to the 2017 platform are opportunities for professional development credits for teachers and counselors, in addition to a special workshop track for high school students — further evidence of the university’s commitment to moving the conference initiative beyond the current dialogue to tangible action and outcomes.”

Highlight speakers for the 2017 conference include Dr. Ivory Toldson, president and CEO of the Quality Education for Minorities Network, and Dr. William C. Bell, a Delta State graduate and president and CEO of Casey Family Programs.

Toldson is a professor of counseling psychology at Howard University and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Negro Education. Toldson’s previous appointments include executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and contributing education editor for The Root.

With more than 60 publications, four books, and over 150 research presentations in 36 states and numerous countries, Toldson’s work and research have focused on dismantling some of the most pervasive myths about African Americans. Instead, he highlights the talent and potential of students of color. Toldson has been featured on MSNBC, The New York Times, various radio stations, and has been dubbed one of “30 leaders in the fight for Black men,” by Newsweek Magazine. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he is “a prolific young scholar and myth buster.”

William C. Bell, president and CEO of Casey Family Programs, is returning for another highly anticipated speech. With more than 35 years of experience in the field of human services, Bell chairs the executive team for CFP and is responsible for the vision, mission, strategies and objectives of the foundation.

Bell’s awards include Special Contribution to the Judiciary Award from the King County Washington Women Lawyers (2016), the Orgullo de la Comunidad (Pride of our Community) Award from the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services (2015), and the 2014 James A. Joseph Lecturer for The Association of Black Foundation Executives.

Additionally, he was named Delta State’s 2012 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and was inducted into the university’s Alumni Hall of Fame and the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society.

Bell is nationally renowned for his contributions and lifelong commitment to improving the lives of children and families, his tireless work to prevent child abuse and neglect, his fight to make the judicial system more accessible to all, and his battle to improve the lives of children in foster care.

In addition to stellar speakers, conference breakout sessions will feature topics covering social justice, civil rights and law, economic opportunities, education and community, and culture and community. These sessions will be guided by leaders from around the state and nation.

Other featured activities include poster competitions for high school and college students, and performances by the ROOTS of Sunflower County and the Delta Blues Museum Band.

The university will kick off this year’s conference with an open house on March 26 from 2-6 p.m. at the Amzie Moore House Museum and Interpretive Center located at 614 South Chrisman Avenue in Cleveland. A press conference honoring the work of Mississippi civil rights veterans will take place at the house at 3 p.m.

Conference activities will begin on campus at 8 a.m. on March 27 in the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State.

For more information, contact Simmons at tsimmons@deltastate.edu.

Delegation attends racial reconciliation conference

By | Faculty/Staff, Students, Winning the Race | No Comments

A Delta State University delegation recently took part in Mission Mississippi’s annual Racial Reconciliation Celebration at the Jackson Convention Complex.

The full day of events focused on racial reconciliation, education and methods for Mississippians, from all walks of life, to work together to create a more unified Mississippi.

Mission Mississippi has been leading the way in racial reconciliation in the state for the past 23 years. Its model is to bring people together to build relationships across racial lines so they can work together to better their communities.

Delta State University faculty, staff and students attended the reconciliation event and participated in a small group session, panel discussion and luncheon.

Student delegates included: Stedmond Ware (graduate student and Delta State staff member), Amber Jordan, Kiara Bryant, Jarrica Carey, Kaviar Lewis, Hampton Strickland and Felicity Strotter. Dr. Temika Simmons represented the university’s faculty.

“The conference raised participant awareness of the significant role that churches and religious organizations can take in bridging racial divides,” said Simmons. “Participants were encouraged to take Mission Mississippi’s 30-day challenge to spend time with a person of another race, sharing, praying and encouraging one another and to share that journey with others via photos on social media. Participants were also encouraged to think of themselves as leaders in the communities for bridging racial gaps.”

“The event is significant in that it raises community awareness of persistent and systemic issues rooted in racial tensions — and empowers participants with ways to get involved to help heal and reunite communities and people,” added Simmons.

Neddie Winters, president of Mission Mississippi, and First Lady of Mississippi, Deborah Bryant, were two featured speakers at the affair.

Delta State’s annual Winning the Race Conference on race relations works in partnership with Mission Mississippi in support of initiatives and efforts to unite and heal groups traditionally separated by race-related divides. Attendance at the reconciliation event is among many sustained campus and community activities supported through the university’s Winning the Race initiative.

The vision of Mission Mississippi is to engage, equip and empower the next generation to build relationships across racial lines, to work together with better understanding, to build greater respect for one another, and to trust each other while making a better Mississippi together.

Learn more at http://missionmississippi.org/about-us.

Berman and Wise to be featured at Winning the Race

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Delta State University’s award-winning race relations conference, Winning the Race, will feature two highlight speakers at this year’s event which will be hosted on campus March 28-29.

Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an investigative journalism fellow at The Nation Institute. He has written extensively about American politics, civil rights and the intersection of money and politics. His stories have appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone and The Guardian, and he is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC, C-Span and NPR.

His new book, “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” was published in August 2015 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Berman graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a degree in journalism and political science. He lives in New York City.

Tim Wise is the author of seven books, including his highly-acclaimed memoir, “White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.” He has contributed chapters or essays to over 25 additional books and his writings are taught in colleges and universities across the nation. Wise appears regularly on CNN and MSNBC to discuss race issues.

Wise is among the nation’s most prominent antiracist essayists and educators and has spent the past 20 years speaking to audiences in all 50 states, on over 1,000 college and high school campuses, at hundreds of professional and academic conferences, and to community groups across the nation.

This year’s conference is titled “Winning the Race: Advancing Social Justice in Communities and Institutions.”

The inaugural program spearheaded by Delta State President William N. LaForge in 2014, was designed as an innovative academic conference. The 2016 schedule promises to build on the meaningful dialogue presented at previous conferences.

Follow all Winning the Race updates at http://www.deltastate.edu/president/winning-the-race/.