UM to Explore State of Education for African-American Students on Tuesday

'The Conversation Continues' panel discussion takes place on campus at 6 p.m. as part of Black History Month

OXFORD, Miss – The state of education for African-American students in Mississippi and strategies to ensure these students receive an equitable education will be explored during a panel discussion at the University of Mississippi on Tuesday.

“The Conversation Continues” will take place at 6 p.m. in Guyton Annex 209. One of UM’s Black History Month events, the discussion is sponsored by the UM School of Education, and the public is invited to attend.

The panel will feature full-time graduate students who are studying education as well as some who are already working in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms in the north Mississippi area, said Nichelle Robinson, diversity officer and associate professor with the School of Education.

Robinson said the title of the event refers to the conversation on this topic that began at a School of Education symposium held in September. During last semester’s symposium, a panel discussion focused on the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared the state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional.

Last semester’s symposium asked the question, “Where is Mississippi 63 years after the court case of Brown v. the Board of Education?” The panel featured individuals who were knowledgeable about the history of education in Mississippi and included members from the Mississippi Department of Education, policymakers, professors and journalists.

Tuesday’s panel discussion will continue this discussion but feature the perspective of students in the school’s doctoral program.

“My thing was, you know what, let’s keep the conversation going that we started in September,” Robinson said. “But this time, let’s use our doctorate students. They are actually in the classroom every day, working with these kids.

“I want to see what their take on the topic is, and see if it is different from the policymakers and those who participated in our panel back in September.”

The panel discussion will be moderated by Steve Becton, associate program director for urban education at Facing History and Ourselves. Panelists will be Alina Harges, special education teacher; Mark Jean-Louis, educator in leadership; Becky Nance, math teacher; and Erica Avent, an elementary schoolteacher.

For more information about this event, contact Robinson at