UM Professor Wins Poetry Award

Derrick Harriell wins the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2014 Poetry Award

Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies, speaks at the Oxford Conference for the Book.

Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies, speaks at the Oxford Conference for the Book.

OXFORD, Miss. – Derrick Harriell, a University of Mississippi assistant professor of English and African-American studies, has the won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2014 Poetry Award for his new collection of poems, “Ropes.”

Founded in 1978, MIAL aims to recognize the elite in fiction, nonfiction, visual art, musical composition, photography and poetry. The award is coveted and highly competitive.

“Receiving the news that my collection of poems ‘Ropes’ won the MIAL Award was gratifying in so many ways,” Harriell said. “I’m happy contributing to the high standard set by our English department and MFA program. Having only been in Oxford for a year-and-a-half, I’m pleased to be embraced both personally and professionally.”

In 2010, Harriell composed his first collection of poems, “Cotton.” For the follow-up, “Ropes,” he focused on the lives of black boxers in America.

Harriell was born and raised in Milwaukee. He has a Ph.D. in English from University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and a M.F.A in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. He has worked as an assistant poetry editor for Third World Press and The Cream City Review and has taught countless writing workshops for students of all ages. He is a two-time Pushcart Nominee and his work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies.

The award reflects well on the university, said Ivo Kamps, professor and chair of the UM Department of English.

“This is quite an honor for Derrick, for the department and the university,” Kamps said. “(Harriell) is relatively new to the university and the state of Mississippi, but he is already making a significant impact on our literary culture and our students. We are pleased and fortunate to have him on our faculty.”

Civil War Research Lecture

Civil War Historian to Deliver Burnham Lecture

OXFORD, Miss. – Carol Reardon, military historian of the Civil War, will discuss providing for the families of Gettysburg’s fallen soldiers April 17 at the University of Mississippi.

Reardon’s presentation, at 6 p.m. in the Overby Center Auditorium, is free and open to the public. Named the 2014 Burnham Lecturer in Civil War History, Reardon plans to examine “Sorrow and Survival: Providing for the Families of Gettysburg’s Soldier Dead.”

John Neff, director of the UM Center for Civil War Research, praised Reardon as one of the foremost authorities on the military history of the Civil War.

“Reardon is an engaging and dynamic speaker,” Neff said. “She has a genuine passion for understanding the military history of the Civil War through its multi-faceted human dimensions.  She is a real treasure and we are very fortunate to have her on campus.”

Reardon is the George Winfree Professor of American History at Pennsylvania State University. She is a military historian of the Civil War who incorporates political and social history into her research of military doctrine and training. She has published a number of works on Civil War military history, including the award winning ”Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory.” She is working on a military history of the Civil War’s Eastern Theater, which will be published in the University of North Carolina Press’ upcoming Littlefield Series.

Each April, the Center for Civil War Research invites a distinguished historian to the university to deliver a lecture on the Civil War era. Van Robinson Burnham, a Mississippi native and UM alumnus whose lifelong love of history and archaeology prompted his generous support for the center, made this lecture series possible.




UM Professor Publishes Book on African Drum and Dance Ensembles

George Dor hopes to educate western audiences about West African music and dance traditions

dr dor relaseOXFORD, Miss. – With the first-ever published ethnographic study of West African drumming and dance in North American universities, George Worlasi Kwasi Dor offers readers a glimpse of one of Africa’s most compelling art forms while modeling true intercultural communication.

Characterized by vibrant rhythms, expressive movement and meaningful storytelling, West African dance drumming has developed through the years into an important campus subculture at universities where this music genre has been embraced.

Dor, an associate professor of music at the University of Mississippi, explores the history, differences and impact of performance courses on African ethnic dance drumming across the U.S. and Canada in “West African Drumming and Dance in North American Universities: An Ethnomusicological Perspective” (University Press of Mississippi, 2014). Through a faculty research fellowship, Dor was able to travel to several schools to study some of the most renowned West African dance-and-drum ensembles, including those at UCLA, University of California at Berkeley, Wesleyan University, Pittsburgh, Tufts and the University of Toronto.

His book also covers the creation of UM’s own African Drum and Dance Ensemble, known as OMADDE, and the key players who helped Dor’s planted seed come into fruition.

In 2003, after the university acquired several carved Ghanaian drums, Dor founded the first African dance ensemble in Mississippi. Through his direction, the OMADDE is able to bring Dor’s interest of African music study and message of love to Oxford.

“In our own way, we are advocates,” Dor said. “We are preaching the message of love, of diversity and multiculturalism on campus.”

The OMADDE concerts have provided engaging experiences with African culture to Ole Miss and the surrounding area for years, said Robert Riggs, UM chair and professor of music.

“Dor was ideally qualified to write this book, because he could draw both on his own practical experience as well as on his background as a widely published scholar of African music,” Riggs said. “I anticipate that his book will be received as a major contribution to a field that is of increasing importance on American campuses.”

Dor, who is originally from Ghana, emphasizes the dance traditions of his homeland in his teaching.

“Africa is so vast,” Dor said. “People tend to view Africa in a monolithic manner, whereas a single African nation-state has several ethnic groups. I come from Ghana, where the major traditions are Akan, Ewe, Ga.”

One of the songs that OMADDE has performed, called “Let’s Move on to Our Destination,” has a subtle, yet poignant message in its lyrics:

 “We’ve come so far, but because of human nature, we will make mistakes. But we will correct ourselves with and in love. Let us zoom ahead because we are pretty close to the destination.”

African Music and Dance is offered in the music department as a credit-earning course. And throughout the years, many students from different backgrounds and countries have participated in the ensemble, as well as faculty and others in the Oxford community.

“George and other ethnomusicology scholars like him have taken this genre of music and ‘transcontinentalized’ it for our western appreciation and enjoyment,” said Donald Cole, assistant provost and assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs. “George’s text serves as part of a diversity manuscript that he directs us through at the University of Mississippi. He brings this text alive in concerts held on campus. There, the theory meets the practice and one enjoys a total appreciation of West African drumming and dance.”

Dor hopes that the book not only serves as a model where African drum and dance ensembles can learn from one another, but as a tool to create awareness and garner greater support.

“There is a tendency here to emphasize only western music and traditions,” Dor noted. “African drumming and dance has been going on for over 50 years in the U.S. and Canada, but I am the first to write about this genre.

“I’m dreaming of a time where we will all see the importance of this. The ensemble is proof that diversity can be performed, as may be evident in the composition of the ensemble, participation of the audience dancing on stage or the message of songs.”

UM Students Chosen to Perform with the Best in the Business

Dance and theatre students get opportunity to collaborate with David Dorfman Dance Company

David Dorfman spends time with UM students at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts earlier this semester.

David Dorfman spends time with UM students at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts earlier this semester.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of 11 University of Mississippi students is set to perform an original 15-minute dance piece as part of David Dorfman Dance Company’s show “Prophets of Funk” at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for Performing Arts.

The collaboration is part of Ford Center’s programs in conjunction with the South’s Arts’ Dance Touring Initiative. The show is at 7 p.m. April 9. Tickets are $33 each and are available by calling the UM Box Office at 662-915-7411 or online. Special pricing is available for UM faculty, staff, students and retirees. Proper ID is required, and the number of discounted tickets is limited.

In January, dancers from David Dorfman Dance spent three days with Ole Miss dance and theatre students. Jennifer Mizenko, UM professor of theatre arts, says she is grateful to Norm Easterbrook, Ford Center director, for writing the grant that allowed this project to happen. The chance to construct choreography that will be incorporated into a professional performance is a first for the students and for Mizenko.

“What is unique about this opportunity is that the work is actually an extension of a piece the David Dorfman Company will be performing, and we will be performing with this professional company at the Ford Center,” Mizenko said. “It is always exciting to have a guest artist come in and set a work on the students, and we are excited for be a part of the whole production process, from rehearsal, to tech to performance in early April.”

The David Dorfman Dance Company was founded in 1985 and has performed in North and South America, Great Britain and Europe, while being based in New York. David Dorfman and the company’s dancers and collaborators have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, an American Choreographer’s Award, the first Paul Taylor Fellowship from The Yard, and eight New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Awards.

“Prophets of Funk” has been performed 34 times in 24 venues, including The Joyce Theatre in New York, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival and a six-night sold-out run at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Beckett, Mass.

The students are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with a professional dance troupe, said David McKell, a freshman from Starkville who is part of the UM dance company.

“I feel that it is a wonderful opportunity not only to further our skills as dancers, but also to meet some wonderful people who are in the business,” McKell said. “It has been a wonderful learning opportunity. Everybody we met has been very willing to give advice and tell stories, which creates a wonderful atmosphere.”

Third Annual Music of the South Symposium Focuses on Songwriters

Amy Andrews, Tyler Keith and the Water Liars to perform April 2

Music of the South

Water Liars

OXFORD, Miss. – Songwriters often express their emotions through combining lyrics and music, and their efforts are the focus of the third annual Music of the South Symposium. Set for April 2-3 at the University of Mississippi, the symposium will gather scholars and students to share research on the culture, meaning and practices surrounding songwriting in and from the American South.

There is no registration fee for the conference, which is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Living Blues Magazine.

Mark Camarigg, publications manager for Living Blues, said the conference appears to be establishing itself, as there was a great and varied response to the call for papers. “We will have discussions on all genres and styles of music, including country, rap, corridos, blues, bounce and gospel,” Camarigg said. “We’ve also made a conscious effort to include films this year, and will show films on songwriters Vic Chesnutt and Jimbeau Hinson.”

In conjunction with the symposium, the Music of the South Concert April 2 features singer-songwriters Amy Andrews, Tyler Keith and the Water Liars. The 7 p.m. concert is in the Ford Center Studio Theatre. Tickets are $10 and available at the UM Box Office and at the door, unless sold out.

Andrews, a bluesy singer and guitar player from Baltimore, Md., who lives in Georgia, raises awareness about women’s spaces, their impact on the lesbian community and the plight of feminist bookstores. Keith, a Southern studies graduate, is known as a member of the garage punk bands the Neckbones, the Preacher’s Kids, and Tyler Keith and the Apostles. The Water Liars, a trio composed of singer Justin Kinkel-Schuster, G.R. Robinson on bass and Andrew Bryant on drums, is a Southern indie rock band based in Water Valley.

The conference kicks off at noon April 2, with a brown bag lunch and lecture session with Andrews, Keith and Kinkel-Schuster, to discuss their experiences as songwriters.

“The Brown Bag roundtable discussion will be a nice opportunity to hear from the musicians talk about the songwriting craft prior to their performance later that evening.” Camarigg said.

The goal of the conference is to consider a number of interrelated issues, including how songwriters incorporate Southern culture into their art, how regional identity, race and religion influence songwriting, and, perhaps most importantly, how songwriters earn a living.

Panel discussions take place in the Faulkner Room of the J.D. Williams Library, and include presentations about gospel songbooks in the Great Depression, female murder ballads and New Orleans hip-hop, among others. Award-winning writer, editor and producer Holly George-Warren will talk about the life and music of Alex Chilton, the topic of George-Warren’s latest biography, published by Viking.  She is also the featured author on the live broadcast of the “Thacker Mountain Radio Show,” at 6 p.m. at Off Square Books, located at 129 Courthouse Square.

Ted Ownby, CSSC director, said that he is excited about a conference with an emphasis on songwriting because at some point on the 20th century, people interested in music showed more interest in musicians than in songwriters, so this is a good way to focus on Southern music.

“The issue of songwriting brings up questions about the relationship between writing and, for example, improvisation, or writing and studio production, or song construction and folk tradition,” Ownby said. “Also, emphasizing the writing of songs allows us to think especially about connections between music and poetry and memoir and other forms of composition.”

For a schedule, visit

Center for Writing and Rhetoric Awards First Faculty Seed Grants

Four faculty members receive $5,000 stipends to improve writing across a variety of disciplines

Recipients of the inaugural faculty seed grants discuss their approaches to improving writing across the disciplines.

Recipients of the inaugural faculty seed grants discuss their approaches to improving writing across the disciplines.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Center for Writing and Rhetoric has awarded $26,750 to four faculty members to improve writing campus-wide.

These first-ever grants were awarded on a competitive basis to those who designed writing-intensive modifications to existing courses, and who plan to implement those changes beginning this academic year. The Faculty Seed Grant program is the final phase of the Quality Enhancement Plan that began in 2009.

Recipients of the Faculty Seed Grants are Gerard Buskes, professor of mathematics; Joshua First, Croft assistant professor of history and international studies; Robert Mongue, associate professor of legal studies; and Kristen Alley Swain, assistant professor of journalism. Awardees have begun meeting weekly in a seminar format with Angela Green, the center’s writing-enriched curriculum instructor, to plan their courses and improve writing pedagogy.

“We have offered the Faculty Seed Grants in order to improve student writing across campus and in all disciplines, rather than just in the first- and second-year writing classes we teach in the CWR,” Green said.

Faculty members receive the $5,000 stipend to compensate them for the additional time spent developing and implementing writing-related activities. At the end of the grant period, results will be presented in a public forum.

Buskes will revise Math 261-Unified Calculus & Analytic Geometry I to fully integrate writing into the course. Students will be required to use writing to reflect on the mathematics they use in class and explain their understanding of key course concepts.

First will redevelop History 347-Topics on Film and History to allow students to gradually acquire advanced skills in preparation for their capstone experiences.

Mongue will rewrite one of the paralegal program’s required law courses, LA 308-Wills and Estate Administration, to focus on writing as a means of communicating students’ understanding of the substantive law for that class and to provide a template for the revision of most of the program’s legal courses.

Swain proposed creating an explanatory writing module, consisting of active-learning exercises and assignments, for use in three sequential core journalism courses. The courses are JOUR 102-Introduction to Multimedia Writing, JOUR 271-News Reporting and JOUR 377-Advanced Reporting.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed about working here is the ability to take advantage of opportunities to work with experts in many different fields in order to improve my own teaching and writing,” Mongue said. “Writing is an essential part of the curriculum for legal professionals. For many legal professionals, their final product is a written document, whether it be a letter to a client, legal memoranda, pleadings, appellate briefs or documents such as deeds, wills or business documents. Each must be written clearly, concisely and with precision.

“The primary benefit we expect students in these classes will receive is a better understanding of how writing and research differs across disciplines,” Green said. “For example, students in history should learn the specific conventions that historians use in their writing, as well as the types of questions historians ask, what evidence they use and how they conduct research.”

The Center for Writing and Rhetoric will offer grants again for the 2014-2015 academic year. These will be selected on a competitive basis and require the endorsement of the faculty member’s department chair. Grants are open to all full-time faculty, both in and out of the tenure stream. Interested faculty members should contact Angela Green at

UM Professor Creates ‘Living Music Resource’ Online Video Library

The first Living Music Resource live interview happens Tuesday at the Ford Center's Studio Theater

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi music professor has created a free online video library of interviews for vocalists and plans a live interactive interview with California composer Sara Graef at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 25) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts’ Studio Theater.

Nancy Maria Balach, associate professor of music, has created the Living Music Resource, which she calls a “music research revolution.” Besides the online resources, it allows participants to ask questions of vocal experts in real-time through interactive interviews, the first of which happens Tuesday, with Graef answering questions.

The interview will be live streamed on the website, and Balach will lead the interview session.  To participate, log in as a guest with your name and city at

The second of the real-time interview sessions, which are known as the “Beat,” is slated for 3 p.m. May 2 and will feature Grammy- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom and singer Joan Morris.

“LMR’s Beat is innovative and brings a humanities resource into the 21st century,” Balach said. “People who would otherwise not have the opportunity to interact with these esteemed artists will now have the chance, and these encapsulated educational moments will be forever digitally preserved on video.”

Music educators are eager to utilize the resource and want their students to participate, she said.

“Students will enjoy interacting and feel a sense of ownership in their learning experience. Performers will have their specific questions answered and needs met. Future concertgoers will feel a connection to the music and the artists, and anyone interested in music will embrace this free interactive experience.”

For more information, visit the Living Music Resource website.

Southern Literary Festival Returning to UM

Annual event March 27-29 to coincide with Conference for the Book

Southern Literary Festival

Southern Literary Festival

OXFORD, Miss. – A popular gathering for student writers and their faculty mentors returns to the University of Mississippi this month.

The Southern Literary Festival, scheduled for March 27-29, will be held in conjunction with the Oxford Conference for the Book, another annual event that has brought together both established authors and rising stars in the literary world for more than 20 years. With generous funding provided by UM’s Department of English and through collaboration with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Center for Writing and Rhetoric, more than 200 attendees are expected at the three-day gathering.

“This is an annual festival for undergraduates across the South who are interested in creative writing,” said Angela Green, writing enriched curriculum instructor and SLF secretary-treasurer. “Our university hasn’t hosted in many years – since 1995 – so we are excited to have the chance to do so again, particularly since the festival coincides with the Conference for the Book.”

Public readings are free and open to anyone in the community. Scheduled workshops and writing competitions are closed to all, except attendees from member schools. Between events, festival attendees can hike the trails behind William Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, or spend time sipping coffee and perusing works by Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly.

“We are thrilled to host the Southern Literary Festival’s 25 member colleges and universities from across the South,” said Elizabeth Spencer, instructor of English and SLF president. “Oxford and the University of Mississippi enjoy a vibrant heritage, and we are excited to share that with some of the brightest undergraduate creative writers and scholars in the region. We hope that many of our attendees will find their way back to Oxford and consider one of our outstanding graduate programs for the near future.”

Highlights of the festival include readings and live music on Thursday afternoon with “Thacker Mountain Radio,” a keynote dinner Friday evening with Grisham Writer-in-Residence Megan Abbott, followed by a celebration of north Mississippi hill country blues at The Powerhouse.

The Southern Literary Festival is an organization of Southern colleges and schools founded in 1937 to promote Southern literature. Each year a different school hosts the event, which is essentially an undergraduate writing conference that includes writing workshops in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and playwriting; a writing competition in those areas as well as in formal essay and literary-arts magazine. It is traditionally a venue in which the participating students, faculty and general public attend readings by well-known writers.

Robert Penn Warren, a former professor at LSU, was one of the festival founders. He spoke at the conference on a number of occasions, as did Eudora Welty, Katherine Anne Porter and Flannery O’Connor, who won an award at SLF as an undergraduate and later headlined the conference as a nationally prominent writer.

For more information about the Southern Literary Festival or to register, visit

Public Policy Leadership Students Invited to Present at Conferences

Four UM juniors preparing to share their research, conclusions at national meetings

Alexandra Pena

Alexandra Pena

OXFORD, Miss. – Dynamic teachers and students who stretch their minds beyond their comfort zones are a winning combination at the University of Mississippi.

Such a match has produced four public policy leadership majors who have been invited to present papers at national conferences this spring. The papers were required writing last semester in the class PPL 300: Ethics and Public Policy, taught by award-winning faculty member Eric T. Weber.

Enrolled in the Lott Leadership Institute, the high-performing students are juniors in the College of Liberal Arts. They are Christine Dickason of Collierville, Tenn., Alexandra Pena of Washington, D.C., Rob Pillow of Madison and Will Reynolds of Ozark, Mo.

Dickason and Reynolds are slated for Eastern Michigan University’s fourth annual Undergraduate Conference in Philosophy, set for March 8-9, and Pena and

Rob Pillow

Rob Pillow

Pillow will present April 12 at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Undergraduate Conference.

Weber, associate professor of public policy leadership, says he’s not surprised when one or two of his students receive this kind of recognition, but four from the same course is unusually exciting.

“They’re great students, first of all, and they worked through an ‘intro-project’ process, in which they were tasked with planning their papers and getting feedback at an early stage,” he said. “They also picked practical and important topics to which our material clearly connected.”

Provost Morris Stocks applauded both Weber and his students for their success.

“I congratulate these outstanding students for their excellence and the national recognition they have achieved for themselves and the University of Mississippi,” Stocks said. “I also commend Dr. Weber for his enthusiasm and passion for teaching, a combination that empowers and inspires students to reach beyond the norm. This is truly another example of excellence at this university.”

Will Reynolds

Will Reynolds

Glenn Hopkins, dean of liberal arts, agreed.

“We are always pleased when the combined efforts of our faculty and students put the University of Mississippi on the national stage,” Hopkins said. “I congratulate Dr. Weber for guiding these exceptional students to this academic opportunity, and I have no doubt that they will be impressive representatives for us all.”

Pena’s research examined the federal public policy debate, including philosophical issues, related to the legalization of marijuana, defending her view that legalization is unethical. She credits her professor’s teaching style for helping her produce a paper worthy of recognition.

“It was a difficult class where you definitely needed to try hard, but Dr. Weber was always there to offer support,” she said. “His intro-project approach to writing was one example of a challenge, but I learned a new way to think and write about public policy.”

Christine Dickason

Christine Dickason

Each of these students has the potential for “great careers as writers, commentators and/or policy analysts and advocates,” Weber said.

Dickason, a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a finalist for the national Truman Scholars program, already is making her mark as a published writer. She has had more than 10 opinion pieces published in UM’s The Daily Mississippian, and one of her articles appeared in the online magazine CampusProgress and was republished in The Nation national magazine.

In her PPL class paper, titled “America’s Schools: Separate and Unequal,” Dickason concludes that “the government must intervene to ensure that America’s children attend school together.”

“I explored theories about the individual, justice and democracy from influential philosophers, such as Dewey, Kant and Aristotle, to determine if racial integration in public schools is a moral necessity,” she said.

Pillow’s research also considers the public education dilemma.

“My paper is about the moral consequences of a segregated school system and its effects on the learning process,” he said. “Basically, years later (since integration) we still have segregated schools, only it’s not enforced by man’s law but rather by natural and economic laws. I cite many philosophical and ethical theories in an attempt to present the problem in a new light.”

Reynolds chose to research moral theories about liberty, basing his study on the “harm principle,” a political theory attributed to John Stuart Mill, a 19th-century British philosopher, economist and moral and political theorist. The theory is relevant to topics such as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policy proposal to ban the sale of many sweetened drinks.

“Mill outlined that the acceptable use of government coercion should be only to prevent harm to others, which has come to be known as the harm principle,” Reynolds said. “I chose this topic because the principle provides the basis of much of libertarian philosophy, and I am very much interested in the workings of libertarianism.”

Reynolds said he is “extremely excited” at having been chosen to present his paper at the conference and considers the experience as another step in his career preparation.

“I am hoping to one day work in the government relations department of a private company,” he said. “Ole Miss has consistently provided a high-quality education that is necessary for me to achieve my career goals.”

Dickason, too, expects her conference exposition to boost her career expectations.

“It will be an incredible opportunity for me to network with peers and learn from the critiques that I will receive from scholars at the conference,” she said.

Following graduation in spring 2015, Dickason plans to complete a master’s degree in public policy.

“I hope to be able to craft and influence education policy on a national scale that will work to remedy the inequality perpetuated within the existing education system,” she said.

A member of the Honors College, Pena also hopes to make a difference on a broad scale. Her long-term goal is to move back to D.C. and work for the government to help shape agriculture policy as it relates to food and nutrition and healthy lifestyles.

“It’s an awesome confidence booster that my paper has been chosen for presentation,” she said. “I have dyslexia, and school has never been easy, but this really shows me that if you try hard and work at it, you can be just as good as anyone else.”

Pillow said he is “honored and excited” to be an invited conference speaker, an opportunity that takes him closer to his long-term career goal. He hopes to become an economic adviser to address social and economic problems at the grass-roots level, including struggling towns in the Mississippi Delta.

Weber, who joined UM in 2007, received the College of Liberal Arts Cora Lee Graham Outstanding Teacher of Freshmen Award in 2011, followed in 2012 by the prestigious, campuswide Frist Student Service Award. He has published three books, with a fourth under way, and he is executive director of the Society for Philosophers in America, among numerous other achievements.

For more information, visit

Partnership to Screen Films on America’s Civil Rights Struggle

Initial film delayed by snow rescheduled for March 18, other events slated throughout year

OXFORD, Miss. – Several community and University of Mississippi entities are partnering to offer film screenings and discussions of four documentaries focusing on civil rights in America. Some of the events, which were postponed from February because of winter weather, are set for March 18.

The series of events is part of “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,“ an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history.

The University of Mississippi Libraries and Center for the Study of Southern Culture are partnering with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library to host the film screenings and discussions. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for the 473 sites across the nation selected to show the films.

The university was awarded a set of four films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. The powerful documentaries, “The Abolitionists,” “Slavery by Another Name,” “Freedom Riders” and “The Loving Story,” include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all. “Freedom Riders” received an Emmy in 2012, and “The Loving Story” and “The Abolitionists” were nominated for Emmys in 2013.

Each of the films was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. “Created Equal” programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life. Visit for more information.

“These films chronicle the long and sometimes violent effort to achieve the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – for all Americans,” said Melissa Dennis, outreach librarian and grant recipient for the University Libraries.

Programming for the films is a collaborative effort between the University Libraries and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, which also received grant funding for the film series.

The “Created Equal” film set is made possible through a major grant from the NEH, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. All events are free and open to the public.

“Because of the grant from NEH, we are able to promote these films and programs that allow our community to discuss important issues of race and history,” said Becca Walton, associate director of projects and grant recipient for Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “The four ‘Created Equal’ films provide a vehicle to connect the stories of the long civil rights movement and the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S., the South, Mississippi and Oxford.”

The schedule of events for “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” over the next few months follows:

“Created Equal” film 1: “The Loving Story”

The moving account of Richard and Mildred Loving, arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.

March 18

Noon-1 p.m., panel discussion: “Race and Space, Responses to ’The Loving Story,’” Faulkner Room, J.D. Williams Library.

Faculty and students will discuss the implications of race and the legal and cultural issues surrounding public and private environments. Light refreshments served. Panelists include Jennifer Stollman, instructor and academic director of racial reconciliation; Nathaniel Weathersby, journalism student and UM Pride Network president; and Michele Alexandre, associate professor of law. Moderated by Melody Frierson, youth project coordinator of the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

7-8:30 p.m., film screening, J.D. Williams Library, Room 106D. Snacks provided.

“Created Equal” film two: “Freedom Riders”

The Freedom Ride of 1961 was a pivotal moment in the long civil rights struggle that redefined America.

April 7

6-8 p.m., film screening, Oxford-Lafayette County Public Library. Popcorn provided.

April 9

6-8 p.m. Join the discussion with a former Freedom Rider at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics. Moderated by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

More events and films will be scheduled for the fall semester, including programming around ”The Abolitionists” and ”Slavery by Another Name.” All events are free and open to the public. Community members, students, researchers and educators are all encouraged to attend. For assistance related to a disability contact Melissa Dennis at 662-915-5861 or

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization that promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of American history. Programs include publications, teacher seminars, a national Affiliate School Program, traveling exhibitions and online materials for teachers, students and the general public. For more information, go to

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, museum exhibitions and programs in libraries and other community places. For more information, go to