Skip to main content

Mississippi Writer Ellen Ann Fentress to Lead Feb. 18 Discussion about Academy Stories, Her Online Project about Private Schools Established in South after U.S. Supreme Court Decisions on Desegregation

Ellen Ann Fentress


On Feb. 18, 2020, at Delta State University, writer and journalist Ellen Ann Fentress will share her most recent project, The Academy Stories, a website that archives the recollections of alumni of private schools established in the South after U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding desegregation of public schools. Joining her for a panel discussion will be Bracey Harris, journalist for The Hechinger Report, and Emily Jones, Delta State archivist. The program begins at 7 PM at the Baioni Conference Center in Broom Hall and is free and open to the public.

Fentress is a native of Greenwood, Miss., where she graduated from Pillow Academy. As a Mississippi journalist, she has reported for the Sun Herald, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Reuters, and Time magazine. “When white parents confronted public school desegregation around 1970, they couldn’t have seen how the choice to establish academies would still steer communities and people three generations later. I’m looking forward to telling about The Academy Stories project and to the Feb. 18 conversation about the history of the academies and their legacy,” says Fentress.

Prior to joining Hechinger, Harris covered politics and education for The Clarion-Ledger, where she also focused on government accountability for the investigative and enterprise team. “I grew up hearing whispers of the year my eldest aunt attended a newly integrated elementary school in Vicksburg, but I didn’t understand the full impact of the Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education court case and how fleeting its opportunity was until I was well into my 20s. I’m looking forward to discussing how community and civic responses to this decision shape Mississippi’s educational landscape today,” says Harris.

Bracey Harris


Jones is also curator of the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum. She is a native of Greenville and a graduate of Washington School. She has devoted her career to preserving and sharing all aspects of the Delta’s history.

Emily Jones


This event is funded in part by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC). MHC is a private nonprofit corporation, funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities, to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi. MHC sponsors, supports, and conducts a wide range of programs designed to promote understanding of cultural heritage, interpret experiences, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen the sense of community, and, thus, empower Mississippi’s people with a vision for the future.

For more information about this event, contact Michelle Johansen, A World Class Experience coordinator, at