Fall SouthTalks Explore Theme of Race in the Classroom

Lectures begin Sept. 7 with David Wharton's 'Roadside South'

Black parents watch their children board a school bus in a vintage photo provided by Zoë Burkholder, who is set to discuss Black struggles for school integration in the North and how these struggles differed from those in the South for a Nov. 15 SouthTalk presentation.

OXFORD, Miss. – Historically, classrooms have functioned as both intensely local spaces and as broader political stages on which debates about equality, identity and access have played out – nowhere to greater effect than at the University of Mississippi, which marks the 60th anniversary of its integration this fall.

With that in mind, programming for 2022-23 academic year for the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture focuses on “Race in the Classroom.”

“Classrooms are not only physical sites where Americans have clashed over who will learn; they are also settings that frame what students will learn and how they will conceptualize themselves as residents of a region and a nation,” said Katie McKee, the center’s director. “This year’s SouthTalks series will consider how ideas about ‘race’ and understandings of ‘the South’ intersect in the classroom.

“Our exploration will range from the colonial hemisphere to the postbellum United States to the Jim Crow era to the civil rights movement to present-day classroom controversies. While our interests include the experiences of Black and white Southerners, they also extend beyond a biracial understanding of the region to one that accounts for the multiplicity of a historical – and a modern – South.”

David Wharton opens this fall’s SouthTalks series with a Sept. 7 presentation on images from his ‘Roadside South’ book and exhibition. Submitted photo

SouthTalks is a series of events – including lectures, performances, film screenings and panel discussions – that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern studies. This series is free and open to the public, and typically takes place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory unless otherwise noted.

Visit https://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/ for information about all center events, including Zoom links for all virtual events.

The fall slate opens at noon Sept. 7, with David Wharton presenting “Roadside South.” Wharton, a documentary photographer, will discuss images in his Gammill Gallery exhibition, which includes photographs from his recent fourth book, “Roadside South,” the third in his trilogy of the American South series.

The exhibition is on view in the gallery in Barnard Observatory through Sept. 30. Wharton is an assistant professor of Southern studies and director of documentary studies at the center.

Maarten Zwiers presents “Race Land: The Ecology of Segregation” at noon Sept. 14. “Race Land: The Ecology of Segregation” is a global and environmental history of the Jim Crow South during the Cold War era. Segregationists not only exploited and destroyed human beings, but also the environment – human and natural resources were systematically mined to uphold the social ecosystem of the South.

Zwiers will discuss the multifaceted and transnational nature of U.S. segregationist thought and practice and the global networks its proponents formed in the years after World War II to sustain their white supremacist worldview. Zwiers is a senior lecturer in contemporary history and American studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie global fellow at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

Vishwesh Bhatt plans to discuss his new cookbook for a Sept. 21 SouthTalk.

At noon Sept. 21, Vishwesh Bhatt discusses his new cookbook, “I Am from Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef,” with Sara Camp Milam. Bhatt has been the chef at Snackbar in Oxford since its opening in 2009.

A native of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, Bhatt is a graduate of the University of Kentucky who moved to Oxford after college to begin a graduate program in political science but soon abandoned academia for restaurant kitchens. Milam is managing editor of the Southern Foodways Alliance.

Dorothye Quaye Chapman Reed presents “Coming Full Circle: My Journey through the University of Mississippi to Many Points Beyond and Back” in the Faulkner Room of the J.D. Williams Library at noon Sept. 29.

An author, columnist, academic, businesswoman and 1974 UM alumna, Reed said she was “only 3 years old when Emmett Till was killed in neighboring Tallahatchie County, I was 10 when James Meredith attempted to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Stores in my hometown would not allow us to sit on the stools to enjoy an ice cream cone or have a cold drink. Fortunately, Black men and women in my community taught us how to cope in this environment and strive for equality.”

As a part of the 60th anniversary of integration on the Ole Miss campus, Chapman Reed’s presentation will focus not only on her early life in Water Valley, but her time at the university after its integration. She will also discuss her work on the “Black Families of Yalobusha County” oral history project with the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

The event is hosted by the University Libraries and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Following the program, all attendees are invited to join a UM slavery guided tour led by history doctoral candidate Don Guillory at 2 p.m. Attendees should meet on the steps of the Lyceum. The tour will last 45 to 60 minutes.

Sociologist Angel Parham is to present ‘Region, Race and History: Racial Palimpsests in the Southern U.S.’ for an Oct. 12 SouthTalk. Submitted photo

The first virtual event of the semester is set for noon Oct. 12, with Angel Parham discussing “Region, Race and History: Racial Palimpsests in the Southern U.S.”

The racial history of the U.S. is too often defined monolithically in terms of a Black-white color line, which has consistently dominated the country. But careful attention to particular regional histories, particularly in the U.S. South with its connections to Latin America and the Caribbean, make clear that there have always been regional nuances that complicate the Black-white dualism often assumed to shape understandings of race across the United States.

Parham is associate professor of sociology and senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. This event is cosponsored by the UM Center for the Study of Race and Racism exploratory group.

Also a virtual event, “Race in ‘The Secret Lives of Church Ladies,'” with Deesha Philyaw and Ethel Scurlock, is set for noon Oct. 19.

Readers and critics alike embraced Philyaw’s “Secret Lives of Church Ladies,” a collection of nine short stories focused on Black women, sex and the Black church. Yet the collection is rarely discussed as being “about race,” with emphasis placed instead on issues related to gender, sexuality and religion. In this conversation between Scurlock and Philyaw, they will explore the significance of race in the book’s stories.

Philyaw’s short story collection won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize and the 2020 Los Angeles Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for fiction. Philyaw is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and will be the 2022-23 John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at UM.

Scurlock is dean of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, associate professor of English and African American studies, and senior fellow of the Luckyday Residential College.

Elizabeth Bronwyn Boyd wil discuss her ‘Southern Beauty: Race, Ritual, and Memory in the Modern South’ at Off Square Books for a Oct. 25 SouthTalks cosponsored by Square Books.

At 5:30 p.m. Oct. 25, Elizabeth Bronwyn Boyd is in conversation with Darren Grem with her book “Southern Beauty: Race, Ritual, and Memory in the Modern South” at Off Square Books, 129 Courthouse Square.

The book explains a curiosity: why a feminine ideal rooted in the 19th century continues to enjoy currency well into the 21st. Boyd, a scholar who lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, examines how the continuation of certain gender rituals in the American South has served to perpetuate racism, sexism and classism.

Grem is associate professor of history and Southern studies at Ole Miss. This event is cosponsored by Square Books.

Jodi Skipper will moderate a panel on “Slavery and Race in Holly Springs” at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at Rust College’s Doxey Auditorium, 150 Rust Ave. in Holly Springs.

Skipper is author of “Behind the Big House: Reconciling Slavery, Race, and Heritage in the U.S. South.” The panel features Chelius Carter and Jenifer Eggleston, cofounders of the Behind the Big House program; Rkhty Jones and Wayne Jones, members of Gracing the Table; and Alisea Williams-McLeod, cofounder of Gracing the Table.

They will discuss the development of the Behind the Big House slave dwelling education program and its impacts and role in telling more inclusive historical narratives in the South. This event is cosponsored by Rust College.

At 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1, Southern studies students will present “Skating South: Oral Histories and Music” at the Oxford Skate Park, 400 Bramlett Blvd., across from the Oxford-Lafayette Public Library.

The program includes oral histories and videos that document the skateboarding community in Mississippi. The presentation will be followed by a performance from the punk band School Drugs.

Clinnesha D. Sibley will help participants explore characters and dramatic situations that reflect injustices in our world during a virtual Nov. 2 SouthTalk presentation. Submitted photo

In a virtual event, Clinnesha D. Sibley presents “Humanists as Activists: Exploring Our Social Responsibility as Writers” at noon Nov. 2. This interactive SouthTalk will allow participants to explore characters and dramatic situations that reflect injustices in our current world.

In the spirit of social change, urgency and activism, participants will be able to create and discuss original literature that encourages radical empathy, activates the human heart and holds the writer accountable. Sibley is the author of plays, blogs, poetry, prose, essays and creative nonfiction.

For another virtual event, Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant presents “Where We Matter: Dean Lucy Diggs Slowe, Howard Women and the Co-Creation of Campus Belonging, 1922-1937” at noon Nov. 9.

From 1922 to 1937 Slowe worked with Howard undergraduates to build an extracurricular program focused on Black women’s community, personal growth and joy. Drawing on student newspaper accounts about her efforts and impact, Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant describes Slowe’s philosophy of “living more abundantly” and the ways it operationalized a sense of belonging and inclusion for Black Howard women.

Beauboeuf-Lafontant is the Louise R. Noun Chair in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell College. This event is cosponsored by the University of Georgia Press.

Zoë Burkholder presents ‘An African American Dilemma: A History of School Integration and Civil Rights in the North’ for a Nov. 15 SouthTalk. Submitted photo

At 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory, Zoë Burkholder presents “An African American Dilemma: A History of School Integration and Civil Rights in the North.”

This study considers what is unique about Black struggles for school integration in the North, how these struggles differed from those in the South and why these regional distinctions matter in order to shed light on the complex relationship between school integration and the larger Black freedom struggle.

Burkholder is an historian of education, professor of educational foundations and founding director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Project at Montclair State University.

The semester concludes at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory with the fall documentary showcase, a celebration of the work by the center’s documentary students. Each artist will present their work, followed by a Q&A session.

For assistance related to a disability, contact Afton Thomas at amthoma4@olemiss.edu or call 662-915-5993.