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History Professor’s Online Teaching Wins Award

Posted on: March 24th, 2020 by

Shennette Garrett-Scott uses interactive tools to bring history to life

Shennette Garrett-Scott, an associate professor of history and African American studies at the University of Mississippi, has been honored with the UM Paragon Award for her standout work in the realm of online teaching. Scott’s online course, ‘African American History Since 1865’ was honored for the innovative uses of technology and interactive components used to keep students engaged. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss

Shennette Garrett-Scott, an associate professor of history and African American studies at the University of Mississippi, has been honored with the UM Paragon Award for her standout work in the realm of online teaching. Scott’s online course, ‘African American History Since 1865’ was honored for the innovative uses of technology and interactive components used to keep students engaged. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services


At universities across the country, thousands of faculty members are working overtime to convert their classes to online courses in response to the COVID-10 pandemic. Shennette Garrett-Scott knows firsthand exactly what that process is like; the University of Mississippi history and African American studies professor has been teaching her classes online since last summer.

In fact, she’s adapted so well to the medium that she has an online teaching award to show for her efforts.

Each year, Ole Miss Online, housed in the UM Office of Academic Outreach, recognizes innovation in online teaching through the annual Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching. Garrett-Scott was chosen for this year’s award because of her uses of technology and interactive ways to keep online students engaged, said April Thompson, UM director of academic outreach.

Online classes tend to lend themselves to a more student-centered approach to learning, Garrett-Scott said.

“Student-centered learning encourages students to conceptualize problems, find solutions and reflect on the process,” she said. “It develops student autonomy and independence, which are the cornerstones of effective critical thinking.”

Last summer, Garrett-Scott taught HST 415: African American History Since 1865 online for the first time. She worked to incorporate a variety of technology and instructional methods into the course to engage different types of learners.

Students learned more about the civil rights era by using the appumentary “The Spies of Mississippi,” developed by the Public Broadcasting Service. An appumentary is a digital application that builds on storytelling presented in books and films to deliver interactive experiences.

“Students could engage, explore and respond to a diverse array of multimedia, such as video, news articles, social media, photos, interactive maps and more through the app,” she said

The appumentary is described as “converting the passive experience of reading a book, or watching a movie into an activity.”

Garrett-Scott’s class stood out among the award committee because of the wide array of learning tools used to enhance student experience, said Mary Lea Moore, assistant director of academic outreach.

“There is no reason history has to be dull,” Moore said. “By bringing in a variety of multimedia aspects into this course, Garrett-Scott enhanced the connection between the student and the material discussed.”

Students in the course participated in a project to investigate further voter suppression tactics that took place in the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“Students examined the voting requirements in their own home state and looked for issues that might exclude people from voting, as well as the past restrictions placed on citizens in their state,” Garrett-Scott explained.

Instead of writing the standard discussion posts online, the class was assigned the task of creating a Pinterest board with this information, as well as sharing information about voting myths and locating the evidence to debunk this misinformation.

“I wanted this to be a more engaging experience for students than just writing a discussion post,” she said. “The goal was to get them to think, research and use their creativity.”

Garrett-Scott says that part of her teaching philosophy includes meeting students where they are to advance them toward diversity, inclusion and social justice.

“As students log in for the first time or look over the syllabus of this class, I imagine the question that flits through most of their minds is ‘What does the past have to do with today?’” she said. “In many ways, students of today are not very different from people in the past. They are more eager to imagine where they are going rather than reflecting on where they have been.

“In our modern society and culture, events that happened last week, let alone a hundred years ago, at best, seem old-fashioned or, at worst, irrelevant and boring. Yet, it is precisely during these moments of change in our present that the past speaks most clearly to us.

“The importance of these moments becomes clearer when students explore intersections of identity and meaning in history.”

In its 10th year, the Paragon Award honors the efforts of online faculty members who exhibit outstanding practice in course design, student engagement and a strong commitment to providing quality education.

“Online course offerings and enrollment at the University of Mississippi have expanded greatly in the past 10 years,” Thompson said. “The one thing that hasn’t changed is the desire to keep improving the online classroom for our students.”

Student Presents Research at Conference

Posted on: May 8th, 2018 by

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.

Emerging Scholar Keon Burns

Posted on: May 8th, 2018 by
Keon Burns photo

Keon Burns

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.

Students’ Slave Dwellings Experience

Posted on: May 8th, 2018 by

Mya King, Ezell Mays, Wysh Dantzler, and other students, faculty, and staff at the Slave Dwellings event.

May 8, 2018

Faculty and students at Rowan Oak.

History Professor Anne Twitty (left), Mya King, and Ezell Mays

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.



‘Just Mercy’ Panel Sparks Restorative Justice Discussion at UM

Posted on: November 20th, 2017 by

Legal studies department and Common Reading Experience host 250 students for program


Roughly 250 students attended the ‘Just Mercy’ panel discussion hosted by the Department of Legal Studies and the UM Common Reading Experience. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Roughly 250 students attended the ‘Just Mercy’ panel discussion hosted by the Department of Legal Studies and the UM Common Reading Experience. Photo by Marlee Crawford/UM Communications

“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.”

Twelve inmates from the Marshall County Correctional Facility joined the event via Skype with host Melissa Dennis, of the UM Common Reading Experience (left); facilitator Linda Keena, legal studies department chair (second from left); and panelists 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; Patricia Doty, deputy warden of security operations at the Marshall County Correctional Center; and Terun Moore, a recent parolee. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Twelve inmates from the Marshall County Correctional Facility joined the event via Skype with host Melissa Dennis, of the UM Common Reading Experience (left); facilitator Linda Keena, legal studies department chair (second from left); and panelists 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; Patricia Doty, deputy warden of security operations at the Marshall County Correctional Center; and Terun Moore, a recent parolee. Photo by Marlee Crawford/UM Communications

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.”

For more information about the UM criminal justice program, email or visit

Stripper in Wonderland Poems

Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by

Wonderland bookBy Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies and director of the Master of Fine Arts English program at the University of Mississippi


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.

From Slave Ship to Supermax: Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Abuse, and the New Neo-Slave Novel

Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by

From Slave Ship to SupermaxBy 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


“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

Mavericks, Money, and Men: The AFL, Black Players, and the Evolution of Modern Football

Posted on: May 3rd, 2016 by

Mavericks bookBy Charles K. Ross, professor of history and director of African American Studies
Temple University Press, 2016

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.”
—Library Journal

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). 

New Museum Collection Features Poetry and Photos

Posted on: March 3rd, 2016 by
Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies

Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies

Reading at gallery to feature contributing poets, photographer


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 and follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

UM Students, Staff Lead Community MLK Day of Service Events

Posted on: January 15th, 2016 by

Volunteers gathering to conduct food drive and promote wellness


Donald Cole photo by Robert Jordan/ UM Communications

Donald Cole photo by Robert Jordan/ UM Communications

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.”

Patrick Elliot Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American Studies.

Patrick Elliot Alexander, assistant professor of English and African American Studies.

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.

For more information about LOU MLK Day of Service events, contact Ball at or Schaum at