University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast history professor Dr. James Pat Smith will present a lecture commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Biloxi wade-ins Jan. 27 from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Gulf Park campus’ Advanced Education Center auditorium in Long Beach.
The lecture kicks off the university’s spring semester academic service-learning courses. Smith worked with Dr. Gilbert Mason, Sr. to publish his memoir, “Beaches, Blood and Ballots: A Black Doctor’s Civil Rights Struggle” which chronicles Mason’s work for civil rights on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His efforts included gaining access for African Americans to Mississippi beaches.
Active in his community throughout his entire life, Mason emerged as a major civil rights leader in Mississippi in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He also filed the first school desegregation suit in Mississippi.
“The many academic service-learning projects being undertaken by students at Southern Miss Gulf Coast and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College this term are in honor of Dr. Mason’s exemplary life of community service, as we approach the anniversary of the first wade-in on Biloxi Beach led by Dr. Mason in May of 1959,” Smith said.
Southern Miss Gulf Coast offers students seven academic service-learning courses for spring 2009. The courses give students the opportunity to master knowledge and skills learned in the classroom by applying them in real-world situations in service to their community. The majority of courses offered focus on the African-American community on the Gulf Coast.
The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information on the lecture or the academic service-learning program, contact Dr. Doug Bristol at 228.214.3247 or
Dr. James Pat Smith
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu/gulfcoast .