African American Studies minor Isis Shannon, an English major, presented her paper “The Memory of Slavery in Three Generations of Black Women in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God” at the Symposium for History Undergraduate Research Conference “Making Memory: Remembering and Commemorating the Past” on April 27 and 28 at Mississippi State University. Dr. Shennette Garrett-Scott, an assistant professor of history and African American Studies, offered students in her African American Survey since 1865 class the opportunity to write a separate research paper, and Isis volunteered. She wrote a paper applying the black feminist theory of multiple oppression to three characters in Hurston’s popular 1937 novel.
Archive for the ‘news events’ Category
May 8, 2018
African American Studies and accounting major Keon Burns has been accepted to the Richards Center Emerging Scholars Summer Mentoring Program at Penn State. He will spend a week there this summer participating in a simulated doctoral seminar and attending workshops on a variety of topics, including writing, digital research, and graduate student life. The program is sponsored by Penn State’s Richards Center, the Department of History, and the Department of African American Studies in a collaborative effort to attract and enroll students from underrepresented populations.
May 8, 2018
Ezell Mays, an African American Studies and anthropology major, and African American Studies minors Wysh Dantzler, a psychology major, and Mya King, a political science major, slept overnight in the surviving slave dwelling at Rowan Oak on April 18 as part of the three-day event “Slave Dwellings: Rediscovering the Enslaved in North Mississippi.”
The students had the unique opportunity to join Joseph McGill and the Slave Dwelling Project for the sleepover. The Slave Dwelling Project brings awareness about the need to preserve the dwellings where African American ancestors lived while enslaved by spending the night in these buildings. The UM Slavery Research Group (UMSRG) co-sponsored the event.
In a day of related events, the UMSRG featured the history of enslaved people in Lafayette County, at the University, and at Rowan Oak with guest talks and a campus tour. The sleepover complemented an archaeological dig at Rowan Oak two years ago, and the Holly Springs-Marshall County Behind the Big House Tour on April 20-22.
Legal studies department and Common Reading Experience host 250 students for program
NOVEMBER 16, 2017 BY
“Is it the water that needs to be changed, or is it the fish? I think it is the water that needs to be changed,” said Joseph Holiday, an inmate at the Marshall County Correctional Center.
Holiday’s question regarding the high rate of recidivism in Mississippi’s prison system elicited applause from the 250 students attending the recent panel discussion hosted by the University of Mississippi Department of Legal Studiesand the Common Reading Experience about social issues and problems in the criminal justice system. The issue is the focus of “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” this year’s universitywide common reading book.
Twelve inmates from the Marshall County Correctional Center joined the event via Skype to share their insights from the book, having completed a study of it through restorative justice classes with Linda Keena, event facilitator and interim legal studies department chair.
Panelists included Patrick Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American Studies and co-founder of the UM Prison-to-College Pipeline program; Randall Rhodes, chief juvenile officer for the 32nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri and adjunct legal studies instructor; and Patricia Doty, deputy warden of security operations at the Marshall County Correctional Center.
The final panelist was Terun Moore. Originally sentenced as a juvenile to life without parole, Moore was paroled in October after serving 19 years. He was able to appeal for parole thanks to “Just Mercy” author Bryan Stevenson’s winning argument to the Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama that life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles.
“This has been a great motivation to each and every one of us,” Moore said. “We have learned through our restorative justice class that the things we did to our victims took away from them the power that they once had and instilled fear instead.
“We’ve learned to how to take responsibility for that. We want to thank Dr. Keena and Warden Doty, who have been very supportive of us. This class has been wonderful.”
Restorative justice is a sentencing philosophy wherein the focus isn’t on the perpetrator and how to punish him or her. The focus is on the victims and what would make them feel whole, Keena said.
“We work with the institutions to teach the offenders to recognize their responsibility, to quit blaming other people for their wrongdoings and then provide them opportunities to make amends for their harm to society,” she said.
Alexander described the UM Prison-to-College Pipeline classes he teaches at Parchman. The program, a university-community engagement initiative, promotes higher education in prison in response to rising rates of incarceration, high-cost punishment and recidivism in the state.
UM joins Mississippi College, Millsaps University and Jackson State University in providing classes, supplies, books and professors to teach incarcerated people.
“This is an investment in our shared citizenship,” said Alexander, citing the high rate of illiteracy among incarcerated people. “It saves taxpayer dollars. Education, particularly higher education, reduces recidivism.
“There is a much greater chance these people who have taken these restorative justices classes will do well when they are back out in society.”
Rhodes talked about the school-to-prison pipeline he combats through grant-funded detention alternative programming that diverts juveniles into community engagement before they end up in prison as adults. He discussed the growing number of children in foster care due to parents’ drug abuse and skyrocketing elementary school suspension rates affecting a disproportionate number of children of color.
“I want to warn you that this bubble of foster care youth and this bubble of elementary suspension kids is a problem,” Rhodes said. “It is really something we have to watch. Stevenson’s idea of a constantly moving target where racial biases come in – now it has moved to this elementary suspension zone.”
Improving the way courts and society consider mitigating factors, such as previous abuse and mental health issues, became an important talking point for the panelists.
In Doty’s years in the criminal justice system, inmates have shared a common thread of substance abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or mental health problems, she said. Society would rather not address these problems because people don’t understand them and are afraid, she said.
“Substance abuse contributes to a significant amount of crimes in the U.S., and a significant number of those folks are people of color,” Doty said. “White people have a more significant substance abuse problem, yet people of color are more often incarcerated.”
Rhodes encouraged students to volunteer time with vulnerable children to help keep them out of prison.
“With all my years in grant programs, I’ve always told my officers (that) it really doesn’t matter what you spend time doing with these children, but that you’re right there beside them spending time with them, showing enthusiasm for whatever you’re doing together,” he said. “Whatever you have to offer is important.
“The kids are going to get something out of it – an attachment with an adult who cares about them. So go for it. Go out there and do it.”
The evening ended with the men from the Marshall County Correctional Center thanking Ole Miss students, faculty and staff for the opportunity to connect.
“Let everyone know, the people there in the audience, you all are the future and cornerstone of changing the mindset of how incarcerated people are viewed in the United States,” said Joseph Holiday of New Orleans.
“The worst prison is what a lot of people are dealing with right now – the prison inside the mind. Many people are held captive to their old prejudices, biases and other things that aren’t conducive to our human development. We want to ask you all to lay down your past biases about those incarcerated and look at the soul and mindset of the individual that can be cultivated.”
LSU PRESS, 2017
The percussive poems of Stripper in Wonderland move from birth to death, funk to hip-hop, and racism to religion as Derrick Harriell explores the life of a modern black man transplanted from the American Midwest to the Deep South.
Harriell summons the ghosts of the past as he deals with the realities of the present. He carefully winds images and words together to produce powerful, often graphic, poems that inform our view of one another as they punch through our assumptions.
Praise for Stripper in Wonderland
“There’s a smell in the strip club—bottom-shelf liquor cut through with electric current. There’s a sound—a tangle of mumbled glee and regret, hissed falsehoods, souring sweat, and the dull ache of push-buttoned drum. The whole of it sticks to your hands and the soles of your feet. The strip club is where the large life is dimly lived. In these revelatory stanzas, the poet puts us squarely on the business side of the door to witness the unrelenting strut of glitter and manufactured glee. And brilliantly, as these stanzas move out past the world he’s so deftly conjured, a glitter drifts down over it all. The poet’s job is to make us remember the loud lies pretty things tell. Here, Derrick Harriell does his job.”—Patricia Smith, author of Gotta Go, Gotta Flow
“It’s apt that Derrick Harriell’s melodious collection of poems, Stripper in Wonderland, begins with a declaration of love from T-Pain. Like the Auto-Tuned crooner, these poems are steeped in heady music—+of molly and alcohol-driven nights, of lost and future loves, of making it rain and where the paper comes from. Harriell writes with the kind of emotional and lyric intensity of a slow jam and he uses that lyricism to untangle and dismantle the performances of sexuality, gender, and addiction that surround us all.”—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke
“Derrick Harriell wrestles with love, fatherhood, the American Southland, and the brittled, tender bruises of black masculinity in this pimp-walked odyssey of a book. With a roll of dollar bills in one hand, a poem in the other, and his mouth fixed for forgiveness against terrible odds, Harriell’s vision shines through like a strobe light, bringing us flashes of light before reminding us how to live through the dark.”—Tyehimba Jess, author of leadbelly and Olio
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Derrick Harriell’s poems have appeared in various literary journals, anthologies, and he is the author of two previous poetry collections. Harriell also received the 2014 Poetry Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.
By Patrick Elliot Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi and co-founder of the University of Mississippi Prison-to-College Pipeline Program at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2017
“Patrick Alexander adds to the canon of critical carceral studies with this evocative exploration of African American literature and prison narratives as intersectional discourses of power, resistance, and cultural revelation. From Slave Ship to Supermax connects enslavement and mass imprisonment as points that mirror each other, bookends of a continuum of state-sanctioned control over the black body. Alexander takes his readers into the prison classroom, complete with its terrors, its dreams, and its illuminations. This compelling and powerful work situates Alexander as a scholar and an activist.”
—Sheila Smith McKoy, Chair of the Department of English at Kennesaw State University, author of When Whites Riot: Writing Race and Violence in American and South African Cultures, and editor of The Elizabeth Keckley Reader, volumes 1 and 2
In his cogent and groundbreaking book, From Slave Ship to Supermax, Patrick Elliot Alexander argues that the disciplinary logic and violence of slavery haunt depictions of the contemporary U.S. prison in late twentieth-century Black fiction. Alexander links representations of prison life in James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk to his engagements with imprisoned intellectuals like George Jackson, who exposed historical continuities between slavery and mass incarceration. Likewise, Alexander reveals how Toni Morrison’s Beloved was informed by Angela Y. Davis’s jail writings on slavery-reminiscent practices in contemporary women’s facilities. Alexander also examines recurring associations between slave ships and prisons in Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage, and connects slavery’s logic of racialized premature death to scenes of death row imprisonment in Ernest Gaines’ A Lesson Before Dying.
Alexander ultimately makes the case that contemporary Black novelists depict racial terror as a centuries-spanning social control practice that structured carceral life on slave ships and slave plantations-and that mass-produces prisoners and prisoner abuse in post-Civil Rights America. These authors expand free society’s view of torment confronted and combated in the prison industrial complex, where discriminatory laws and the institutionalization of secrecy have reinstated slavery’s system of dehumanization.
“The haunting of social life by transatlantic slavery is never far from sight or sound in U.S. cultural life. In From Slave Ship to Supermax , Patrick Elliot Alexander traces the afterlife of black journeys across the Atlantic in and through the carceral state. Reading Baldwin, Morrison, Johnson, and Gaines, Alexander reminds us, with searing ethical commitment and intellectual acumen, that forgetting how we came to be here is both ill advised and dangerous. This book will spark a different kind of conversation about work on the prison-industrial complex.”
—Sharon Patricia Holland, Townsend Ludington Distinguished Term Professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of The Erotic Life of Racism and Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivity
“From Slave Ship to Supermax presents a highly accessible set of ideas to engage Black creative works beyond the literary realm. This work contributes a fresh perspective to the emerging discourses of U.S. and global carceral studies.”
—Dylan Rodríguez, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and author of Forced Passages: Imprisoned Radical Intellectuals and the U.S. Prison Regime and Suspended Apocalypse: White Supremacy, Genocide, and the Filipino Condition
The American Football League, established in 1960, was innovative both in its commitment to finding talented, overlooked players—particularly those who played for historically black colleges and universities—and in the decision by team owners to share television revenues.
In Mavericks, Money and Men, football historian Charles Ross chronicles the AFL’s key events, including Buck Buchanan becoming the first overall draft pick in 1963, and the 1965 boycott led by black players who refused to play in the AFL-All Star game after experiencing blatant racism. He also recounts how the success of the AFL forced a merger with the NFL in 1969, which arguably facilitated the evolution of modern professional football.
Ross shows how the league, originally created as a challenge to the dominance of the NFL, pressured for and ultimately accelerated the racial integration of pro football and also allowed the sport to adapt to how African Americans were themselves changing the game.
“Although other writers have explored the history of the American Football League, Mavericks, Money, and Men is the most extensive treatment of the league to date. Linking the history of the AFL with a number of key developments in American society and culture, Ross skillfully synthesizes an array of personal memoirs with a wide range of compelling anecdotes. Archival materials also illuminate the internal workings of the AFL. Mavericks, Money, and Men is a valuable narrative history that captures key moments in the development of the nation’s most popular sport.”
—Gregory Kaliss, author of Men’s College Athletics and the Politics of Racial Equality
“[T]he emergence of the American Football League (AFL) created an excitement unmatched in professional sports…. Ross focuses on the league’s recruitment of black players from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Grambling State, Florida A&M, and North Carolina Central…. [Ross] aptly documents the evolution of the current NFL and how the integration of professional football paralleled the social integration of American life. VERDICT An important chapter in U.S. racial history of the 1960s. Recommended for all collections.”
Dr. Ross is the author of Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League (NYU Press, 2001) and the editor of Race and Sport: The Struggle for Equality On and Off the Field (University Press of Mississippi).
Reading at gallery to feature contributing poets, photographer
MARCH 2, 2016 | BY STAFF REPORT
The newest exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum is a collaboration of poetry and photography inspired by Langston Hughes’ award-winning poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” and the museum is hosting a special reading Thursday (March 3) to celebrate it.
“Of Rivers: Photography by Young Suh, Poetry edited by Chiyuma Elliott and Katie Peterson” features 11 poems accompanied by photographs that interpret them. It runs through June 25 in the museum’s Lower Skipwith Gallery.
The museum is partnering with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and its 23rd Oxford Conference for the Book, for a poetry reading at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (March 3) in the gallery. Many of the poets who contributed to “Of Rivers,” including Jericho Brown, Chiyuma Elliott, Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies, and Katie Peterson, as well as photographer Young Suh, will participate in the reading, which is free and open to the public.
The reading will be followed by an opening reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
“Almost 100 years after it was written, Hughes’ ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ still inspires writers to think about how to live and what to do,” said Rebecca Phillips, the museum’s coordinator for membership, exhibits and communication. “‘Of Rivers’ invites the viewer to be part of that conversation. It invites them to discover and contemplate – and hopefully also delight in – some of the new creative work that responds to this famous and important poem.
The exhibit started when organizers asked eight poets of differing styles and sensibilities to write something in response to Hughes’s 1921 poem. The participating poets are F. Douglas Brown, of Los Angeles; Jericho Brown, of Atlanta; Katie Ford, of Los Angeles; Rachel Eliza Griffiths, of Brooklyn, New York; Derrick Harriell, of Oxford; Dong Li, of Nanjing, China and Stuttgart, Germany; Sandra Lim, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Michael C. Peterson, of Cincinnati.
Suh, of Cerrito, California, was asked to visually respond to all the poems.
“What you experience in the gallery is the result of this collaboration: a literary and visual call and response,” Phillips said.
Because the artists featured in the exhibit can take for granted that readers and viewers know the relationship with the Hughes poem exists, some of their work foregoes explicit signals of connection, she said.
“Most of the poems and photographs have some things in common: they are specific, personal and idiosyncratic, not magisterial, or mythic or universal. These creative responses to Hughes focus on the unruly facts of the world. They are shape-shifting – sometimes autobiographical – narratives that begin with a big problem and tend to resist closure.”
The University Museum, at the intersection of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information on upcoming exhibitions and events, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Volunteers gathering to conduct food drive and promote wellness
JANUARY 11, 2016 | BY EDWIN SMITH
University of Mississippi students and staff will be spearheading efforts to promote healthy lifestyles in Lafayette County and Oxford during 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances.
The opening ceremony for the Lafayette-Oxford-University MLK Day of Service begins at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 18 at the Oxford Activity Center. Program participants include Oxford Mayor George “Pat” Patterson and Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby. Donald Cole, assistant provost, special assistant to the UM chancellor for multicultural affairs and associate professor mathematics, will deliver the keynote address.
Afterward, awards will be presented to four outstanding LOU volunteers in two categories. Community member recipients are Patrick Alexander and Jacqueline Certion, both of Oxford; and Judith Thompson of Abbeville. Faith Meyer of Oxford is the student recipient.
“It is exciting that University of Mississippi students and staff are choosing to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Kacey Schaum, assistant dean of students for leadership and involvement. “Volunteering builds communities and strengthens relationships. To have our students take opportunities to participate in endeavors like these is amazing.”
Other activities scheduled are:
Jan. 4-15 – a letter-of-appreciation writing campaign for civil rights leaders John Perkins and Charles Evers. Also, “I Have a Dream” art project. Participating schools include Oxford-University School and Lafayette High School.
Jan. 16 – Delta Service Corps VISTA is sponsoring a canned goods drive for the UM Food Bank, Pantry and Love Packs. Drop-offs may be made between noon and 4 p.m. at CVS, Larson’s Cash Saver and Walgreen’s.
Jan. 18 – Ole Miss athletics/UPD-sponsored “Dream Team” 5-K wellness walk/fun run. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Oxford Activity Center. The first 50 participants to register get free T-shirts.
Jan. 18 – Volunteer projects at the Veterans Home in Oxford.
Jan. 18 – Sorting of food collected during the food drive.
“Learning the larger history surrounding civil rights and MLK is important, but we see a need to educate our students about living leaders who made great movements right here in Mississippi,” said Sara Baker, co-coordinator of the letter-writing campaign. “We hope to give proper gratitude to local leaders. We hope to educate students on the civil rights movement here in Mississippi and give them a local, current perspective about the continuous issue.”
Community participation is crucial to the success of the service observance, said Sarah Ball, Volunteer Oxford director.
“This national day of service honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and commitment to transforming our nation through service to others,” Ball said. “The LOU MLK Day of Service offers community members a chance to engage in a variety of volunteer opportunities that are designed to give back to the community.”
An assistant professor of English and African American Studies at UM, Alexander created a Prison-to-College Pipeline Program for inmates at Parchman Penitentiary. He is also volunteers with the Rethinking Mass Incarceration in the South Conference.
Thompson is a UM assistant professor of teacher education. A lifelong volunteer, she has been involved with the Boys and Girls Club, CREATE Foundation, Leap Frog, Lafayette County School Board and other groups. She is chair of the LOU Excel by 5 Steering Committee, a community-based project that strives to improve the quality of life for children ages 5 and younger.
A senior academic adviser for the UM FASTrack Program, Certion started a free summer program for tutoring students in math and reading. She is also involved in the Boys and Girls Club, Sigma Gamma Rho sorority and other organizations.
A sophomore from Austin, Texas, Meyer is involved in Kappa Delta sorority at UM. She chaired its Personal presence, Attitude, Communications skills and Enlarging our world committee and worked with Prevent Child Abuse America and the Girl Scouts.
BY EDWIN SMITH
When carefully studied, historic discoveries sometimes can yield useful insights into modern societal problems. But without access to the artifacts from past eras and cultures, the valuable lessons they teach may be lost.
In efforts to preserve archival holdings related to northern Nigeria, a University of Mississippi historian is leading a service project that will both promote further academic research and provide the public with access to rare documents from the region’s pre-colonial era.
Bashir Salau, associate professor of history, heads the Northern Nigeria: Pre-colonial documents preservation scheme. Using a grant awarded by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme and sponsored by the Arcadia fund, Salau has spent time in the region copying the materials, which will be kept secure in National Archives Kaduna as well as the British Library and other suitable repositories.
“The documents targeted by this project are stored in the National Archives Kaduna,” Salau said. “I visited this archive for the first time in the late 1980s while working on my B.A research essay on the history of the textile industry in the Kaduna region of northern Nigeria. I noticed that many records in the archive in question are in deplorable conditions.”
Since completing his essay, Salau has returned to Kaduna several times and understands that most of the materials are in such bad state because of wear and tear from repeated use and other factors. Targeted antiquities to be photographed include Arabic and Hausa materials from the late 18th century to the British colonial conquest, 1897-1903. Early colonial papers ranging from 1897 to around 1920 are also included.
“The materials are subject to exceptional vulnerability because of their considerable overuse by students and researchers,” Salau said. “This project seeks to digitally copy the materials in line with the standards endorsed by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme so as to enhance public access to these remarkable documents.”
The approximately $15,500 awarded for the three-month project covers the costs of Salau’s travels, laptops and digital cameras for use by his team, compensation for five research assistants/consultants engaged in copying materials and other miscellaneous expenses.
UM administrators expressed great enthusiasm over Salau’s work.
“The award of a prestigious British Library Endangered Archives Programme grant for Dr. Salau’s international scholarship is another validation of his important work,” said Glenn Hopkins, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Joseph Ward, associate professor and chair of history, is particularly supportive of his colleague’s endeavors.
“Given our state’s strong historical connection to West Africa, this is a wonderful opportunity for us to partner with Nigeria through Dr. Salau’s preservation efforts,” Ward said. “In so doing, we will help Nigerians reconnect with their past as well as assist American students in learning more about African history.”
The materials form an important part of human culture and heritage, and are of value to anyone interested in the unique culture and history of the African past.
“The unique documents in Hausa and Arabic are important because they document the social, economic and political history of the Sokoto Calipate, which was the largest 19th century Islamic empire in West Africa,” Salau said. “Also contained within these materials are the early years of British colonial rule in northern Nigeria, when many features of Caliphate economy and society were researched by colonial officials.”
The materials are also valuable because they detail colonial policy formation and demonstrate the extent to which officials understood Islam, slavery and unfree labor in what had been the Sokoto Caliphate, he said. The British colonists tried to shape colonial northern Nigeria through reform of Caliphate institutions, a technique used successfully during slavery in the pre-Civil War United States.
“The materials are of value to historians of Africa in general, because such resources deal with labor, culture, intellectual history and inter-group relations in the African pre-colonial era. Such documentation is relatively scarce,” Salau said.
A graduate of York University in Canada, Salau specializes in African and African diaspora history. He teaches “Introduction to African history,” “The history of Africa since 1800,” courses on Islam in Africa and the history of slavery in Africa. His research explores the history of slavery in 19th and early 20th century West Africa, specifically the use of slaves on plantations.