UM Winter Institute Has Key Role in National Day of Racial Healing

Initiative of W.K. Kellogg Foundation includes more than 130 organizations across the country

OXFORD, Miss. – The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi is collaborating with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and more than 130 organizations for a National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday (Jan. 17).

The observance is an effort to heal wounds created by racial, ethnic and religious bias and build an equitable and just society where all children can thrive.

“We have to be truthful when looking at ourselves as individuals and as a nation,” said Portia Espy, the Winter Institute’s director of community building. “Although we’ve made positive strides in the area of race relations, there is still a deep divide in this country, one that if we’re not careful will become even deeper; undoing the good work that has been done.

“We each have to take responsibility in playing our individual and collective parts in bridging the divide and bringing us together as one. The National Day of Racial Healing is intended to call attention to this need and to kick off an ongoing effort to bring the healing that many in our nation are calling for.” 

In the next few weeks, the Kellogg Foundation and its Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation colla­borating organizations will carry out a variety of events to mark the first-ever National Day of Racial Healing. The TRHT community, corporate and nonprofit partners represent a collective network of nearly 300 million Americans.

Winter Institute namesake, former Mississippi Gov. William F. Winter, serves as the TRHT enterprise’s honorary co-chair, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. 

One of the Winter Institute’s most powerful tools is the Welcome Table and its story circles, which build trust and understanding among participants. The institute has developed a toolkit that individuals can use to lead story circle sessions in their communities as part of National Day of Racial Healing events. The toolkit can be accessed at

Communities are encouraged to share their TRHT efforts, on Jan. 17 and afterward, by posting photos and statements on social media using the hashtag #mississippihealing.

“Communities, organizations and individuals are being asked to acknowledge that there are still deep racial divisions in America that must be overcome,” said Gail Christopher, senior adviser and vice president for TRHT at the Kellogg Foundation. “We have to come together to heal and commit to truth telling, engaging representatives from all racial, ethnic, religious and identity groups in genuine efforts to increase understandi­ng, communication, caring and respect for one another.”

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have equal opportunities to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

Based in Battle Creek, Michigan, the foundation works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans.

For more information about the Winter Institute’s National Day of Healing, email Portia Espy at

Activist, Writer, Lawyer and Scholar Deepa Iyer to Visit UM

Lecture and book signing set for Thursday

Deepa Iyer

Deepa Iyer

OXFORD, Miss. – The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation is hosting a lunch event, keynote address and book-signing at the University of Mississippi by internationally known activist, writer, lawyer and scholar Deepa Iyer.

Iyer plans to discuss the need for creating more welcoming and equitable communities in the United States during her keynote address, “Imagining Justice in Today’s Racial Climate.” The lecture at 4:30 p.m. Thursday (March 31) in Lamar Hall, Room 130, will be followed by a book-signing. Both are free and open to the public.

“I plan on setting context for the climate of anti-immigrant sentiment and the backlash that Muslim, South Asian, Arab and Sikh communities are facing around the nation,” Iyer said. “I hope that audience members will emotionally connect with the stories that I share in my remarks, and that they will have a fuller understanding of post 9/11 America.”

Iyer is dedicated to advancing intersectional and community-based racial justice issues in this country. She served as the executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together for many years, working closely with national leaders on racism and discrimination issues. As senior fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion, Iyer is committed to helping government, communities and institutions end racial inequality to create unprejudiced outcomes.

The public also is invited to discuss the introduction of Iyer’s book, “We Too Sing America, at a Lunch and Learn with Deepa Iyer event at noon Thursday (March 31) at the Winter Institute, in Suite A on the third floor of Lamar Hall. Participants are asked to read the chapter beforehand. Lunch will be served.

“Iyer’s impact has been on a national and international scale,” said Jennifer Stollman, academic director for the Winter Institute. “Students and other campus stakeholders will have the opportunity to hear how she came to this movement, how she developed effective and successful techniques and strategies which illuminate these populations and their struggle for civil rights, equality and equity in the United States.”

For more information on these events and upcoming activities hosted by the Winter Institute, visit or follow @WmWinterInst on Twitter.

Jennifer Kirby-McLemore Named Inaugural Diversity Award Recipient

Honor is presented by UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement

Director of Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement Shawnboda Deanne Mead, Meek School of Journalism Dean Will Norton, Diversity Award Recipient Jennifer Kirby-McLemore and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LeBanc.

Shawnboda Mead (left), UM journalism Dean Will Norton and Brandi Hephner LaBanc (right) congratulate award recipient Jennifer Kirby-McLemore.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi law student Jennifer Kirby-McLemore has been named the recipient of the inaugural Treadway P. and Mark D. Strickland Diversity Award for her efforts to promote diversity and inclusion on campus and throughout the community.

The award is presented by the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement.

Kirby-McLemore has devoted much of her time to diversity awareness. As a law student, she has interned with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; is president of OUTLaw, an organization on campus with the focus of promoting awareness of LGBT legal issues; and has worked as a student lawyer with the Mississippi Innocence Project.

Her community service work has included teaching biology and science at three underprivileged schools in north Mississippi, volunteering with the UM law school’s Pro Bono Initiative with the Family Law Clinic and LGBT Documents clinic, and, before law school, volunteering for the Coldwater Methodist Church Food Pantry.

“I never thought that all the various activities I am involved in would culminate into this,” Kirby-McLemore said. “I just felt compelled to help when and where I can – to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves or provide an echo for those already advocating for themselves.”

She has earned numerous recognitions for her academic achievements and work to promote diversity.

“It was certainly encouraging to read about the outstanding diversity-related activities that all of the applicants had experienced,” said Shawnboda Mead, director of the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. “As the inaugural recipient of the scholarship award, Jennifer Kirby-McLemore stood out among others as she exemplified the characteristics that Mark and Tread Strickland were hoping for. I am beyond grateful to Mark and Tread for their generous gift and the impact they’ll have on students for years to come.

“My hope is that students will be inspired to take advantage of even more opportunities to increase their involvement in diversity and inclusion initiatives.”

The purpose of the award is to assist a deserving undergraduate or graduate student committed to promoting diversity awareness and acceptance in continuing their education at the university.

“The vision of the Strickland Diversity Award is to assist a student who exemplifies a commitment to diversity awareness, inclusiveness and respect and to bettering our university community,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs. “I am very grateful for Tread and Mark, as they have created a support unit for students on our campus. Their generous scholarship will allow many future students to commit themselves to pursuing a campus atmosphere that encourages dignity and respect.”

Activist Deepa Iyer to Visit UM Oct. 14-16

Winter Institute, Department of Public Policy Leadership co-sponsoring scholar's public appearances

Deepa Iyer

Deepa Iyer

OXFORD, Miss. – The founder and executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together is making a series of appearances Oct. 1416 at the University of Mississippi.

Scholaractivistlawyer Deepa Iyer lectures Wednesday (Oct. 15) at the Overby Center Auditorium and Thursday (Oct. 16) at the Robert C. Khayat Law Center, Room 1090. Both events start at 5 p.m. and are free to the public. Iyers is also the noon brown bag luncheon speaker TuesdayThursday at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, on the third floor of Lamar Hall.

Iyer’s appearances are cosponsored by the Winter Institute and UM’s Department of Public Policy Leadership. Topics she plans to address include “America’s New Racial Landscape,” “The Politics of Being Brown: Legal and Policy Frontiers,” “Asian Americans and Radical Identities in the South,” “Racial Anxiety and Solidarity in a MajorityMinority Nation” and “CommunityBuilding in South Asian Communities.”

“Deepa Iyer’s presence on campus is extremely important,” said Jennifer Stollman, events coordinator for the Winter Institute. “In addition to complicating the nation’s blackwhite racial paradigm, her work as an activist and scholar highlights the experiences, challenges and strengths of South Asian communities.”

Iyer is a prominent spokesperson and adviser regarding policy and issues related to South Asian communities. She has written widely on post9/11 backlash, immigration reform, racism and law enforcement, and access to political, social and economic benefits.

“Her experience founding, developing and directing SAALT demonstrates to the University of Mississippi the ability to identify a void in the American racial landscape, illuminate issues of inequity, and develop awareness, policies and solutions impacting South Asians,” Stollman said.

“By complicating America’s racial landscape, Ms. Iyer allows for a more reflective and nuanced approach to infrastructural, systemic and interpersonal racism. Such an approach encourages the faculty, staff and students to be more aware of the complexity of racism, how it impacts our structures and relationships and illuminates solutions that can sustain change and the push for equality.”

Iyer said she is honored and privileged to be spending a week with UM students and faculty.

“During my week at the University of Mississippi, I hope that we can collectively generate ideas and conversations about issues at the heart of our country’s changing racial landscape: race relations, immigration, post9/11 America and solidarity among communities of color,” Iyer said. “The University of Mississippi, grounded in a history of civil rights resistance, is an ideal place to wrestle with these issues and move toward solutions that will bring about greater racial equity.”

For more about the Winter Institute, visit For more about Deepa Iyer, visit For more information about SAALT, go to

Winter Institute Salutes Legacy of Nelson Mandela in Mississippi

Susan M. Glisson outside the Mandela House

“As we say here, a great tree has fallen.” – Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela

Millions of people around the world mourn the death and celebrate the life of President Nelson Mandela, boxer, lawyer, anti-apartheid activist, political prisoner, peacemaker, statesman and internationally recognized symbol of hope, perseverance and forgiveness.

His loss resonates strongly with the staff of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and others who work for racial reconciliation and equity in Mississippi. For us, President Mandela was proof of what could be done and how it should be approached.

Read the story …

Medgar Evers 50th Anniversary Commemoration

In partnership with museums, universities, foundations, and national organizations across the country, the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute is sponsoring events commemorating the 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers’ assassination, culminating in a series of activities in Washington, D. C., and Jackson, Miss., in June 2013. For a complete list of events, visit

Events in Jackson, Miss., June 8-12

  • June 8 – Inaugural Medgar Evers International Day of Justice and Service

  • June 9 – Medgar Evers Sunday

Faith leaders all over the world will remember Medgar Evers and celebrate his legacy by sharing a message of unity and faith.

  • June 9 – Liturgy for Racial Reconciliation, 4 p.m.

Commemorating the life and legacy of Medgar Evers, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral

  • June 9 – Medgar Evers Exhibit Grand Opening and Reception, 6 p.m.

Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center

  • June 10-11 – Where Medgar Walked: Civil Rights Sites Tours (city-wide)
  • June 10-11 – Civil Rights Film Festival, Davis Planetarium
  • June 11 – Day of Commitment

Youth Congress: Dedicated to the Cause of Freedom, Cabot Lodge Millsaps

  • June 12 – International Day of Remembrance, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Art Garden Celebration on the Green, Mississippi Museum of Art, Music • Art • Food festival • Literacy fair • Reflections and book signings by historians and authors • Sponsor exhibits

  • Service of the Bells, Noon – 12:30 p.m., Memorial and praise in word and song
  • Tribute Gala, 7:30 p.m.

Jackson Convention Complex

For tickets, call 1-800-599-0650.

Education and Activism Intersect for New Academic Director

Jennifer Stollman hired at William Winter Institute

Jennifer Stollman

Jennifer Stollman

OXFORD, Miss. – Creating a support mechanism for individuals to better incorporate racial awareness is the goal for the new academic director at the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Jennifer Stollman, whose background is in American history anthropological theory, began her job last month, which offers her a chance to merge her interests of higher learning and education with activism.Read the story …

Event Offers Free Screening of New Delta Documentary

Film focuses on problems of gay and HIV-infected people in the South

OXFORD, Miss. – The troubled lives of people struggling against prejudice, poverty and HIV infections in the Mississippi Delta and other parts of South will be explored in a new documentary, “deepsouth,” to be screened next week at the University of Mississippi.Read the story …

Winter Institute 2011 Summer Youth Program Chronicled in Documentary

Film follows students as they learn to lead racial reconciliation efforts

‘Growing Our Own’ from Spot On Productions LLC on Vimeo.

OXFORD, Miss. – When a Spot On Productions camera crew arrived at the University of Mississippi last summer, they weren’t sure exactly what to expect. There was no script, professional actors or special effects.

A year later, their efforts have yielded a buzz-generating documentary about the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation’s annual Summer Youth Institute, a program that helps high school students from around the state become leaders in the process of racial reconciliation.

Read the story …

Winter Institute Summer Youth Program Inspires High School Students to Lead Communities

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-eight Mississippi high school students are preparing to make a positive impact in communities across the state, thanks to an innovative leadership program sponsored by the University of Mississippi’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Rising sophomores and juniors were chosen from a pool of 150 applicants to attend the third annual Summer Youth Institute, which began Sunday (June 10) and runs through June 24.

“For many students, it’s a life-changing two weeks,” said Elliot Long, project coordinator. “I’m looking forward to bringing together another group of students, learning about their passions and helping them make a difference in their communities.”Read the story …