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Winning the Race

The Delta State delegation that recently attended Mission Mississippi’s annual Racial Reconciliation Celebration included: (left to right)  Stedmond Ware,  Amber Jordan, Kiara Bryant, Jarrica Carey, Kaviar Lewis, Hampton Strickland, Felicity Strotter and Dr. Temika Simmons.

Delegation attends racial reconciliation conference

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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.

Ari Berman, left, and Tim Wise are the two highlight speakers at the third annual Winning the Race conference at Delta State March 28-29.

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/.

 

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Winning the Race returns for third year

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Off the heels of last year’s successful Winning the Race Conference, Delta State University is gearing up for the third year of the award-winning race relations symposium scheduled for March 28-29.

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, and the 2016 schedule promises to build on the meaningful dialogue presented at the previous conferences.

“Delta State is a cultural ‘mecca’ that champions and celebrates the multicultural identity of the Mississippi Delta, and provides leadership and programming for the community and region,” LaForge said of last year’s conference.

The schedule of events will place special emphasis on engaging campus and community dialogue regarding current issues related to social justice, and working to rekindle opportunities for municipalities of the Mississippi Delta to collaborate and promote racial healing.

Co-chairs for the conference are Dr. Temika Simmons, assistant professor of psychology, and Dr. Garry Jennings, professor of political science.

“In 2016, we are looking forward to expanded and depended conversations around social justice issues as a continuation of conversations held at previous conferences,” said Simmons. “Participants have asked for more information regarding how they can get more involved on campus and in their communities. This conference will provide that information.”

Members of the 2016 Winning the Race Committee: Front (l to r): Paula Lindsey, Arlene Sanders, Elizabeth Joel, Garry Jennings, President William N. LaForge, Temika Simmons, Lekeitha Morris, Jeanna Wilkes. Back (l to r): Emily Jones, Sam Washington, Edwin Craft, Paulette Meikle-Yaw, Charles Westmoreland, David Breaux. Missing from the photo: Georgene Clarke, Rolando Herts, Billy Moore, Michelle Johansen, Michael Lipford, Davlon Miller, Tricia Walker, Ahm Reza and Robin Boyles.

Members of the 2016 Winning the Race Committee: Front (l to r): Paula Lindsey, Arlene Sanders, Elizabeth Joel, Garry Jennings, President William N. LaForge, Temika Simmons, Lekeitha Morris, Jeanna Wilkes. Back (l to r): Emily Jones, Sam Washington, Edwin Craft, Paulette Meikle-Yaw, Charles Westmoreland, David Breaux. Missing from the photo: Georgene Clarke, Rolando Herts, Billy Moore, Michelle Johansen, Michael Lipford, Davlon Miller, Tricia Walker, Ahm Reza and Robin Boyles.

Two highlight speakers will be featured during this year’s schedule.

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.

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.

Other event highlights include a special mayor’s roundtable, designed to provide a platform for local governmental leaders to discuss race and the challenges and successes they’ve experienced while leading and governing municipalities across the Delta.

The conference also features a student poster competition, a gallery talk and tour of the home of Amzie Moore, an African American civil rights leader and entrepreneur in the Delta whose home was declared a historical landmark in Cleveland in 2008. Breakout sessions feature topics covering social justice; civil rights and law; economic opportunities; education and community; and culture and community.

Simmons added that the conference allows the campus and community to focus on underreported positive race relations efforts across the nation.

“Over the past several years, tensions around race and ethnicity have increased nationwide,” she said. “Although there has been an increase in media coverage on many pervasive issues, not as much attention has been paid to the many individuals, organizations, movements and institutions that have played a critical role in helping people to fully understand and positively affect the current racial and cultural climate across the country.

“Delta State University, by way of this conference, has taken a bold, leading step in advancing a rich, academic and positive dialogue about not only what’s happening nationwide, but what’s happening on our campus and in our local Delta communities,” she added. “Given Mississippi’s current reputation regarding issues around race and race relations, it is important for an academic institution like Delta State to highlight — despite stereotypes — what is actually happening on the ground in our state, particularly in the Delta.”

The university’s 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, forward and open thinking, while reducing racial disparities and tensions.

In its inaugural year, the conference received the 2014 Civil Rights and Social Justice award and was accepted by LaForge at the 4th National Civil Rights Conference in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

A finalized schedule of events is still in progress. All conference updates will be published at http://www.deltastate.edu/president/winning-the-race/.

Clark received prestigious Diversity Award this spring.

Delta State awards diversity champion

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During the spring, the Diversity Committee awarded the inaugural Diversity Champion Award to Georgene Clark, retired assistant professor of English.

The diversity award was established to recognize individuals and divisions/departments that have made extraordinary efforts over the past three years to promote diversity awareness at Delta State and the wider community.

Clark met the following criteria for the award: innovative teaching/educational programming or activities designed to engender diversity within the classroom and/or curriculum at Delta State, documented record of committee work/community involvement or outreach to the local community by a campus organization or department or division, and active leader in promoting cultural diversity at Delta State.

Arlene Sanders, instructor in Political Science and chair of the Diversity Committee, presented the award to Clark during Delta State’s Winning The Race conference in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

“The Diversity Champion Award supports the mission of the Diversity Committee by recognizing those who are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive academic community that fosters productive intellectual exchange while bridging gaps in the differences in the human experience,” said Sanders.

Conference co-chair and Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration, Dr. Myrtis Tabb, has worked alongside Clark for many years and recognized the significance of this award.

“It is a well-deserved recognition for Professor Clark to be given the first Delta State University Diversity Champion Award,” said Tabb. “However, an even greater honor was bestowed on her by naming the award for her. Every recipient in the pursuing years will be bestowed the Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award. What a great honor for Professor Clark to acknowledge her leadership and commitment to Delta State University diversity work.”

For more information on the Diversity Committee, please visit http://bit.ly/1RPrsdH. To view more details about this year’s Winning The Race conference, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/winning-the-race/about/.

The B.B. King AllStar Choir will perform at the opening reception of the Winning the Race conference March 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

B.B. King AllStar Choir to perform at Winning the Race

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The B.B. King AllStar Choir will perform at the opening reception of the Winning the Race conference at Delta State University March 30. The reception takes place at the Bologna Performing Arts Center at 5:30 pm.

The opening event is sponsored by the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, The Delta Center for Culture and Learning, Vicksburg National Military Park and Eastern National for the National Park Service Centennial. The event will also feature special guest Robert Stanton, former director of the National Park Service. It will be free and open to the public.

The choir, which was founded in 2013, is sponsored by the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. It is comprised of musically gifted youth grades six through twelve. They are selected by audition from communities throughout the Delta region, including Greenwood, Indianola, Cleveland, Boyle and Ruleville. 

“It has been a privilege and a joy to work with such talented, enthusiastic young singers,” said Dr. Cheryl L. Weiss, choir director. “We are pleased to be working with the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area to showcase some of the best and brightest young musicians that our region has to offer.”

The choir was one of only nine youth choirs selected to perform at the Crescent City Choral Festival in New Orleans. They also have sung for Governor Phil Bryant and other prominent Mississippi Politicians at the Delta Council Meeting, the WABG-TV March of Dimes Telethon and in a private concert for B.B. King. This spring they will sing the National Anthem for the Mississippi Braves baseball team and be featured at the Little Walter Music Festival in Alexandria, La.

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

The MDNHA is a partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the Congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project. For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/delta-center-for-culture-and-learning/.