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2023 Winning the Race Conference Sees Format Change

CLEVELAND, Miss. — The 2023 Winning the Race conference was held on March 28 in Ewing Hall on the campus of Delta State University. The previous eight Winning the Race conferences have seen national, state, regional, and local experts and speakers discuss topics such as education, civil rights, economic development, and social justice, all in the context of furthering racial understanding. This year, organizers changed the format of the event to be more interactive to examine the role and composition of the conference going forward.

DSU Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Andy Novobilski said, “Basically, we’re taking a deep breath and re-evaluating the impact that the Winning the Race can have in the Delta.”

Recipients of the 2023 Georgene Clark Diversity Awards (L) Library Assistant Brandy Collins and Archivist Emily Jones.

Attendees registered for “circles” throughout the day, which consisted of about 20 participants and two facilitators per circle. The attendees spoke with and to each other through guided dialogue and prompts. They were asked to relate their experiences regarding racial tension and how it affected them.

This year’s gathering was facilitated by the Alluvial Collective, the former William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Von Gordon, Executive Director of the Alluvial Collective said, “We want to determine the more effective roles of systems leaders in educating young people about race,” he said. “It’s all about building stronger communities.”

There was a free networking lunch provided by J & W Smokehouse and Bar-B-Que and sponsored by Casey Family Programs for attendees to continue connecting and collaborating. Following the meal, several DSU staff members and faculty were recognized for nominations and awards, including Dr. Lauren Coker-Durso and Barbara Washington, nominees for the IHL Diversity and Inclusion Award. Previous winners of the award Dr. Tomeka Harbin and Professor Sylma Samuel-Ferreira were recognized, as was Dr. Todd Davis, IHL’s 2022 Diversity Educator of the Year. The 2023 Georgene Clark Diversity Awards were then presented to Library Assistant Brandy Collins and Archivist Emily Jones.

Johansen said, “The ultimate goals are to engage with campus and community constituencies, promote continuing conversations, and rekindle action through sustainable and collective energy.” Attendees were encouraged to respond to and share an online survey to give their thoughts about the future of the conference. To access the survey click here, or for more information about future Winning the Race conferences, visit or contact Michelle Johansen at