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Forum History: The Teens

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The 00s 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 


FALL 2010

The Mixed Joys of Showbusiness
October 23, 2010

Rick Lenz is an actor, author, and playwright who discussed his book, an autobiography, and his experiences in Hollywood.

Countdown to 2012: The Road Ahead
November 30, 2010

Elanor Clift is a political reporter who, at the time of her lecture, was a Newsweek contributor. She is a former White House correspondent for Newsweek and was a member of the 1992 election team that followed President Clinton. She was also the deputy Washington bureau chief and has covered every presidential campaign since 1976.


Armstrong-Branch Lecture
January 27, 2011

Raylawni Branch is a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement and is best known for her leading role in the integration of USM in 1965. Gwendolyn Armstrong was also a part of this integration effort and together, the two helped to integrate the university.

The Office of Minority Student Development served as a sponsor for this event.

Cartoonist Studio: A Conversation with Stephanie Gladden
February 8, 2011

Stephanie Gladden is a Hattiesburg native and a professional cartoonist who has worked for Disney and the Cartoon Network. She has worked on shows such as the Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, and Dexter’s Laboratory.

Gladden’s lecture was co-sponsored by the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies and the College of Arts and Letters.

Celebrate – Song, Dance & Story!
February 22, 2011

This Forum featured several cultural performers from Mississippi, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Alaska and highlighted how stories, music, and dance convey cultural traditions and knowledge from one generation to another across geographical borders. This event was part of the Education Through Cultural and Historical Organizations’ Performing Arts Festival, hosted by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

The USM Center for American Indian Research and Studies supported the presentation.

Today’s Legacies: Cotton and Race in the Making of America
March 1, 2011

Gene Dattel is a cultural and economic historian who worked for 20 years in the financial world. He argued that cotton was the single most important determinate of American history in the 19th century and that it prolonged slavery. Further, he argued that slavery-produced cotton caused the American Civil War.

Entartete Musik: Exiled, Ostracized, and Murdered Composers
March 15, 2011

Ulrike Anton, a flutist, and Russell Ryan, a pianist, focused on composers who were active in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt.

This Forum was sponsored by the School of Music and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

OK for Now
April 5, 2011

Gary Schmidt is an author and writing professor whose visit was coordinated in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Collection.


FALL 2011

No information available.


The Healing
March 6, 2012

Jonathan Odell is an author who wrote The Healing, a novel that explores the role that story plays in the healing of oppressed people. He spoke about his novel and the historical context in which he connects with his Mississippi roots through his characters.

This Forum was co-hosted by The Friends of University Libraries.

The Methodology of Originalism
April 4, 2012

This was Justice Scalia’s second visit (first in 1996) and he spoke about how he believed that the United States constitution should be applied as it was written not interpreted as a living document. 


FALL 2012

Unknown Title
September 25, 2012

Carlton Wade is a USM alumnus who, at the time of his visit, was a hip-hop journalist who wrote for XXL and The Source. During his time at USM, he wrote for The Student Printz and has worked on a documentary about rap in the south. He is known for having written about southern rappers before they garnered mainstream attention. 

Still Standing
October 9, 2012

Dwight Owens spoke about his experience of being paralyzed after a car accident. 


No information available.


FALL 2013

No information available.


February 11, 2014

At the time of his lecture, Vincent Chaney was a student and a documentary filmmaker. He was part of the team that produced subSIPPI, a film about the various subcultures found in Mississippi.

You Can Walk on the Moon
February 18, 2014

Clifton Taulbert is a Pulitzer Prize winning author and business consultant who spoke about the power of the eight habits of the heart.

This was the 2014 Armstrong-Branch lecture.

Nuclear Energy: A Global Landscape in Change
February 25, 2014

Carrie Walker is a USM alumna who worked with Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Salvage the Bones
March 18, 2014

Jesmyn Ward is a novelist who won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones.

Ward’s visit was supported by The Friends of University Libraries, the College of Education and Psychology, the English Department, and the Committee on Resources and Services for Women.


FALL 2014

Human Ecology, Pathways to Sustainability, and the Earth Circle Exhibit
September 9, 2014

At the time of this Forum, James Inabinet was the director of the La Terre Bioregional Center in Hancock County, Mississippi. 

September 16, 2014

At the time of his lecture, Julian Walker was a USM student who had begun acting. He was featured in the film Blackbird alongside Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington. 

Crises, Ecological and Social
September 23, 2014

At the time of his lecture, Robert Jensen was a journalist, author, and professor of journalism.

October 7, 2014

Whitney Miller is a USM alumna who won the inaugural title of MasterChef on the television show MasterChef.

Unknown Title
October 14, 2014

Dr. Wiest is a professor of history at USM who specializes in war and society. He was the first Forum director to return to give a lecture.

Unknown Title
October 21, 2014

Gary Johnson is a politician who served as the governor of New Mexico before running for president as a Libertarian in both 2012 and 2016.

Gary Johnson’s visit was sponsored by the College of Arts and Letters, the Department of Political Science, the Department of International Development and International Affairs, and Interdisciplinary Studies.


Is Religious Belief Natural? The Relevance of Cognitive Science to Faith
January 27, 2015

Justin Barrett is an experimental psychologist and author who spoke about religion and science.

Barrett’s visit was co-hosted by the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Guarding Our Present and Future: The Public Health Laboratory Network in America
February 3, 2015

At the time of her visit, Jill Taylor was the director of the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center. She was also a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the CDC’s Office of Infectious Diseases.

Endangered Equity Through Perceived Equality: Women’s History and its Crucial Role in Contemporary Fights for Justice
March 3, 2015

Jennifer Stollman was, at the time of her lecture, the academic director at the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi.

If Only She Were a Man: Women Composers from the 18th to the 21st Centuries
March 24, 2015

This was the duo’s second Forum visit.

Why Religion is Natural and Science is Not
March 31, 2015

At the time of his lecture, Robert McCauley worked with the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture at Emory University.

Title Unknown
April 21, 2015

At the time of his lecture, Ben Burkett was a Mississippi farmer and activist, a James Beard Award winner, and the President of the National Family Farm Coalition.



FALL 2105

Writing in the South
September 22, 2015

Rick Bragg is an author who wrote about the south and has written books about Jerry Lee Lewis and Osceola McCarthy. This was his second visit to USM. 

The Physics of NASCAR
October 13, 2015

Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is a physicist and author as well as an accomplished nanomaterial researcher and educator. In her Forum lecture, she spoke about how science drives the country’s most popular sport, NASCAR. 

The Gay Rights Revolution
November 10, 2015

Roberta Kaplan is a lawyer who was the lead attorney in the United States v. Windsor Supreme Court case, a landmark case that required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage across the United States. 


Civil Rights Cold Cases
February 16, 2016

Jerry Mitchell is an investigative reporter who convinced authorities to reopen Civil Rights era cold cases. His investigations are thought to have led to the arrest of several Klansmen. 

Grace and Grit
March 1, 2016

Lilly Ledbetter is a woman’s equality activist who was the plaintiff in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Congress later passed a fair pay act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, in her name.

An Evening with Barbara Ehrenreich
April 12, 2016

Barbara Ehrenreich is an author and political activist who is known as a muckraking reporter. She was a prominent democratic socialist in the 1980s and 90s and is well known for her book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. 



FALL 2016

The Free State of Jones: History and Memory
September 13, 2016

Victoria Bynum wrote about the Jones County revolt against the Confederacy and examined the legacy of Knight’s Rebellion and the racial politics that have shaped our memory of the past. This was her second Forum lecture.

American Injustice: Mass Incarceration
October 18, 2016

Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer and social justice activist who founded and is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a group that provides legal representation to those who may have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or those who were unable to afford effective representation.

Security Mom: Homeland Security in an Age of Mayhem
November 15, 2016

Juliette Kayyem is a businessperson, author, and security analyst for CNN. She is the former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, and worked with state and local government to coordinate responses following Deepwater Horizon. 


Your Inner Fish: Evolutionary Biology
February 7, 2017

Neil Shubin is a paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and science writer who hosts PBS’ Inner Fish. His lecture delved into the evolutionary origins of both humans and fish. 

Title Unknown
March 21, 2017

Kristen Soltis Anderson is a Republican pollster, TV personality, and writer who was, at the time, a contributor to ABC’s election coverage and explored how millennials are making a difference in American politics.

Title Unknown
April 11, 2017

Sebastian Junger is an award-winning journalist and documentarian who is best known for his documentary Restrepo about the Afghanistan war.

This Forum was in collaboration with the McCarthy Lecture Series.



FALL 2017

The Good Lord Bird: Faith and American Slavery
September 5, 2017

James McBride is a writer and musician who won a National Book Award for his novel The Good Lord Bird. This Forum was a lecture and musical presentation about the nation’s painful legacy regarding slavery. 

October 24, 2017

Dan-el Padilla Peralta is a classics professor at Princeton and an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who discussed the role that immigrants have played in building America.

Our Fractured Republic
November 14, 2017

Yuval Levin is a conservative intellectual, political analyst, and journalist who is the founding editor of National Affairs. He is focused on the relationship between political philosophy and public policy. 


Discovering our Scientific Potential
February 20, 2018

John Asher Johnson is an astrophysicist and a professor of astronomy at Harvard University. Johnson is also the first tenured African-American physical science professor in the history of the university and is well-known for discovering three of the first known planets smaller than the Earth outside of the our solar system.

Reporting Sex Trafficking, Genocide, and Other Truths of the World
April 10, 2018

Nicholas Kristof is a journalist and political commentator. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes and is a regular CNN contributor.



FALL 2018

Susannah CalahanBrain on Fire: Autoimmune Disease and Brain Trauma
September 18, 2018

Susannah Cahalan is a journalist and author who suffered from a rare auto-immune disease, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, that caused her body to attack her brain. Her memoir, Brain on Fire, details her experience with this disease and was made into a film for Netflix.

This Forum also featured Jasmine Whiteside, a USM alumna who suffered from the same condition and was diagnosed thanks in part to Cahalan’s memoir.

David SpergelOur Simple and Strange Universe
October 2, 2018

David Spergel is a theoretical astrophysicist and a Princeton University professor who is best known for his work on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe mission. He is a member of the NASA Advisory Council and is chair of the Space Studies Board.

Dr. Spergel’s lecture was a part of the Rayborn Lecture series.

Jose Antonio VargasDefine America: My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant
October 23, 2018

Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist, filmmaker, and immigration rights activist who came out as undocumented in 2011. Since revealing his own status, he has been advocating for migrant rights and is the founder of Define American, a nonprofit organization that aims to open up dialogue on the criteria people use to determine who is an American.


Sarah SmarshHeartland: Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
February 12, 2019

Sarah Smarsh is an author and journalist who writes about socioeconomic class, politics, and public policy. Her book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award.

Gina McCarthyThe Future of the Planet: Climate Change and Environmental Protection
March 26, 2019

Gina McCarthy was the 13th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013 to 2017. She served under the Obama administration and was instrumental in the passage of the 2015 Clean Power Plan. She also oversaw the United States’ ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement. She is the founding Director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard University.

Robert BallardFinding the Titanic and Other Tales of the Sea
April 16, 2019

Robert Ballard is a retired United States Navy officer who is best known for his work in underwater archaeology. His most prolific discovery is that of the wreckage of the RMS Titanic in 1985. He also discovered the battleship Bismarck in 1989, the aircraft carrier the USS Yorktown in 1998, and the wreckage of John F. Kennedy’s PT-109 in 2002.


FALL 2019

Samantha FuentesConversations with Samantha Fuentes: Uplifting the Voices of the Silenced
September 17, 2019

On February 14, 2018, seventeen people lost their lives after a gunman opened fire on the students, faculty, and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many more were wounded, including Samantha Fuentes. She was left with shrapnel permanently embedded in her legs and behind her eye, and currently manages symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  But her story of strength and courage began before surviving one of the deadliest school shootings in United States history.  Samantha has endured bullying, racist attacks, physical abuse, and domestic abuse. Transforming tragedy into action, Samantha Fuentes has become an advocate for those who have been silenced and works to remind us that we have the power to change the world.

Tena ClarkSouthern Discomfort
October 29, 2019

Tena Clark, a Mississippi native and Southern Miss alumna, is a Grammy-winning producer and entrepreneur. Clark began her career as a drummer and engineer in rural Mississippi before she was discovered by Stevie Wonder. Over the course of her career, Clark has written and produced for Aretha Franklin, won a Grammy for her work with Natalie Cole, and has collaborated with artists such as Leann Rimes, Dionne Warwick, Chaka Khan, and Maya Angelou. A pioneer in the field of creating sound for corporate branding, she is the CEO and chief creative officer of DMI Music & Media Solutions and has developed promotions for McDonald’s, AMC Theatres, and Walgreens. In addition to her work in music, Clark is a civil rights activist and a champion for women’s rights. Her recent memoir, Southern Discomfort, is a “Southern gothic tale of growing up in 1950s Waynesboro, Mississippi, a lesbian raised by a womanizing father, an alcoholic mother, and a household of African-American help whom she’d sooner call family.” (Kirkus Review)

Sonia ShahPandemic
November 12, 2019

Sonia Shah is an investigative journalist who writes about science, human rights, and international politics. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Foreign Affairs. Shah’s most recent book, Pandemic: Tracking Contagions from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond, explores the origins of epidemics and draws parallels between the story of cholera and the pathogens that threaten humankind today. Pandemic was a finalist for the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science/technology, the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the National Association for Science Writers’ Science in Society Award. It was also a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Shah has been featured on CNN and her TEDTalk, “Three Reasons We Still Haven’t Gotten Rid of Malaria,” has been viewed over one million times. Shah is currently working on her fifth book, The Next Great Migration.


Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give: Finding Your Activism
February 11, 2020

Mississippi-native Angie Thomas writes young adult literature. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was a New York Times bestseller and won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, a Coretta Scott King Honor, a William C. Morris Award, and was on the National Book Award Longlist. In 2018, a film adaption of The Hate U Give, was released starring Amandla Stenberg. Thomas’ second novel, On the Come Up, was published in February 2019 and is already slated to be adapted into a film.  Thomas, a former teen rapper, places authenticity and visibility at the forefront of her work.  In her novels and speeches, she champions diversity in literature and the politics of finding one’s voice. 

Marjorie SpruillVotes for Women: The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment
March 24, 2020

Marjorie Spruill is a historian acclaimed for her work on the American women’s rights movement. Her book, New Women of the New South: The Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States, explores the lives of eleven of the most prominent leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in the South and their views on race and states’ rights. Her most recent book, Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights, delves into the rise of the modern women’s rights movement in the 1970s and the way it contributed to the polarization of American politics. Dr. Spruill is a former Southern Miss history professor and served as the University Forum director from 1986 to 2000. She is the first University Forum director to be asked to return as a Forum speaker. Dr. Spruill is professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina.

Jodi KantorBreaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement
April 7, 2020

In October 2017, investigative journalist and author Jodi Kantor helped ignite a movement. Kantor was part of a reporting duo that broke the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein, a prominent figure in the film industry.  Their work helped spark the #MeToo movement and has led to new laws and standards of accountability concerning sexual harassment.  In 2018, Jodi Kantor, along with her colleague Megan Twohey and the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.  Kantor has written about the aftermath of the Weinstein story in She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement. Previously, Kantor covered Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and wrote a best-selling book, The Obamas, that delved into the behind-the-scenes challenges Barack and Michelle Obama faced as they became President and First Lady. Kantor is currently a contributor to “This Morning” on CBS.

FALL 2020

Nontombi Naomi TutuTruth and Reconciliation: Healing Wounds
September 15

Rev. Nontombi Naomi Tutu, daughter of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Archbishop Desmund Tutu, is a human rights activist. Her activism and outreach draws inspiration from the challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa and explores the negative outcomes of hate and division. Currently, Rev. Tutu is the Missioner for Racial and Economic Equity at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, NC and the founder of Nozizwe Consulting. The recipient of four honorary doctorates, her work focuses on bringing people of different backgrounds together to acknowledge and celebrate their shared humanity.  


Paul ToughThe Years That Matter Most
October 13, 2020 

Paul Tough writes about education. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character and, most recently, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us. In The Years That Matter Most, Tough exposes “hidden truths” about colleges and universities and raises questions about whether higher education offers the same opportunities for rich and poor kids. Tough is a contributing editor at the New York Times Magazine and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The AtlanticGQ, and Esquire, He has also served as a reporter and producer for public radio program, “This American Life.” 

James Forman Jr.Confronting Mass Incarceration
October 27, 2020

James Forman, Jr., is a Professor at Yale Law School. He is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color in the United States. His Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, looks at the war on crime in the 1970s and the Black mayors, judges, and police chiefs who took office during a period of rising crime, their tough-on-crime measures, and the effect of these policies on poor Black neighborhoods. Before joining the faculty at Yale, Forman clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner and was a public defender in Washington, D.C. His work as a public defender led him to start the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for youth offenders and school dropouts. He is the son of Civil Rights activist James Forman and grandson of author, activist and University Forum guest Jessica Mitford.


Marjorie SpruillVotes for Women: The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment
November 10, 2020

Marjorie Spruill is a historian acclaimed for her work on the American women’s rights movement. Her book, New Women of the New South: The Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States, explores the lives of eleven of the most prominent leaders of the women’s suffrage movement in the South and their views on race and states’ rights. Her most recent book, Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights, delves into the rise of the modern women’s rights movement in the 1970s and the way it contributed to the polarization of American politics. Dr. Spruill is a former Southern Miss history professor and served as the University Forum director from 1986 to 2000. Dr. Spruill is professor emeritus at the University of South Carolina. 

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