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Winning the Race Archives - News and Events

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.

Dr. Rolando Herts receives the Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award from Arlene Sanders, Diversity Committee chair (center) on behalf of The Delta Center, along with staff members (left to right) Patricia Webster, Heather Miller, Lee Aylward and student employees Lydia Haley and Moira Fair. Student employees not pictured include Stephanie Green and Erica Spiller.

Delta Center presented 2016 Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award

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The Diversity Committee at Delta State University recently awarded the 2016 Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award to The Delta Center for Culture and Learning.

The inaugural Diversity Champion Award was presented to Georgene Clark, retired assistant professor of English. The award was presented to Clark at the 2015 Winning the Race conference where it was announced that the award was being named in her honor. The annual conference promotes conversations between and among individuals and communities about race relations, social justice, diversity and inclusion.

This is the second year that the award has been presented, which was was established by Delta State University’s Diversity Committee to recognize individuals and divisions/departments that have made extraordinary efforts to promote diversity awareness at Delta State and in the broader community.

Dr. Temika Simmons and Dr. Garry Jennings, co-chairs for the 2016 Winning the Race conference, both praised The Delta Center for its commitment to diversity awareness.

“The Delta Center has been an active partner with the Winning the Race conference since it began three years ago,” said Simmons, assistant professor of psychology and recipient of the 2016 Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s Award for Excellence in Diversity. “The Delta Center’s ongoing support of the conference, among several other projects and initiatives, is noteworthy and deserves the university-wide recognition that this award embodies.”

“The Delta Center’s collaboration is essential to the success of the Winning the Race Conference. It means that the conference has the support of an organization deeply involved with the culture, history and, most importantly, the soul of the Mississippi Delta,” said Jennings, professor of political science and director of the The Madison Center. “In keeping alive the history of this region, the Delta Center connects the past to our efforts in the present, building hope for justice in the future. This is essential for our work on the Winning the Race Conference.”

Arlene Sanders, instructor of political science and chair of the Diversity Committee, presented the award during the closing session of the 2016 Winning the Race conference.

“For several years, The Delta Center has offered programs that highlight the Mississippi Delta’s rich cultural diversity,” said Sanders. “They offer National Endowment for the Humanities workshops that attract educators from all over the country to learn about the Delta. They manage the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area that offers programs like the Delta Jewels Oral History Partnership about African American church mothers. They direct an international blues project that highlights the global influence of blues music and culture. For these reasons and many more, The Delta Center is most deserving of this award.”

Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center, accepted the award on behalf of The Delta Center.

“The Delta Center is honored to receive the Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award,” said Herts. “For over 15 years, The Delta Center has been promoting appreciation of the Mississippi Delta’s diverse culture and history as part of the American experience. That includes telling inclusive stories involving cultural perspectives regarding race, social injustice, civil rights, regional identity, and even expressions of faith.”

The Delta Center 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; a documented record of committee work, community involvement or outreach to the local community by a campus organization or department or division; and active leadership in promoting cultural diversity at Delta State.

To learn more about The Delta Center, visit http://deltacenterdsu.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 center serves as the management entity of the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and is the home of the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshop and the International Delta Blues Project.

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/.

Delta State University President William N. LaForge (left) addresses mayors from across the Delta for the second annual Mayors' Summit on campus today.

Campus hosts second Mayors’ Summit

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Mayors from across the Mississippi Delta gathered at Delta State University today for the second annual Mayors’ Summit hosted at the Hugh Ellis Walker Alumni-Foundation House.

The university invited mayors from all of the municipalities in Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Sunflower and Washington counties as a way to reach out to surrounding communities and engage local leaders in a discussion about university and community activities.

President William N. LaForge was excited to build on last year’s inaugural summit.

“I was encouraged by the dialogue that took place and the desire of our Delta area mayors to work together for the betterment of our region,” said LaForge. “I want to continue to grow these partnerships, and I am anxious to discover additional ways that Delta State can work to support local communities as they continue their support for the university.”

This year’s meeting focused on plans and topics for Delta State’s third annual race relations conference, Winning The Race, which will take place in the spring of 2016.

The mayors in attendance also appreciated the opportunity to voice their collective thoughts.

“It’s great anytime people come together to communicate about being in the same place dealing with the same things,” said Darryl Johnson, mayor of Mound Bayou. “When leadership comes together to talk about what we can change and what we can do to move forward on the same page, you can bet something good will come out of it. I applaud the efforts of President LaForge for what he’s doing to bring us together.”

Mayor John Cox of Greenville echoed praise for the university’s efforts.

“It’s important that you look at the big picture first, especially as we’re talking about race relations across America,” said Cox. “I think it’s a very good thing that a local university is putting this topic at the forefront. I think it will continue to pay dividends for the communities and campus.”

LaForge said the university takes pride in being a leading example.

“Delta State is committed to leading a dialogue about race relations in an effort to strengthen our communities,” said LaForge. “We want to hear your ideas and input on suggested topics and areas where we should focus our efforts to assist you and your communities with this important dialogue.”

One important piece of this dialogue was the potential for change in the Mississippi state flag, which flies large above Delta State’s main entrance to campus.

The university released an official statement today supporting a change to the “Stars and Bars” symbol that the flag boasts on its top left corner. Mississippi is home to the sole remaining U.S. state flag that depicts the Confederate battle flag symbol.

“Delta State University stands as a living testament to the successes of equality, fairness and social justice,” reads the statement. “We will continue to recognize and reflect on Mississippi’s history, but we will also continue to provide leadership throughout the state and beyond in advancing the understanding and appreciation for our differences and our common challenges in the region. For these reasons, Delta State University supports making a change to a symbol, such as Mississippi’s state flag, that promotes divisiveness and serves as a barrier to understanding.”

As Mississippi’s most racially diverse public university, Delta State proudly embraces the region, heritage and its people. Despite being located in an area characterized by some as a place of poverty and racial inequality — the Mississippi Delta — Delta State has successfully recruited students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. Delta State is leading conversations about race relations and building stronger communities — most notably through the award-winning race relations conference.

The institution is also home to Mississippi’s only collegiate swimming and diving program, and boasts state-of-the-art facilities. Yet Delta State is not allowed to host NCAA swimming and diving championships due to the design of Mississippi’s current flag.

The NCAA has advised that, “…the Confederate flag is a symbol of oppression to many of our players, fans and coaches. It also believes that holding NCAA pre-determined championship events in Mississippi is not in the [sic] keeping with the established criteria.”

In announcing the university’s position, LaForge said, “In many respects, Delta State University is a cultural mecca, and we celebrate this multicultural identity associated with our people, musical heritage, literature and the arts. Those who visit the university and the Delta, from around the country and abroad, deserve to know we are a welcoming community.”