Jodi Kantor is a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter whose work reveals “hidden truths” about gender, power, economics, and politics in America. In 2017, Kantor and fellow reporter Megan Twohey broke the story about allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s against film mogul Harvey Weinstein. This work helped spark the #MeToo movement and, along with a team of reporters from The New York Times, earned Kantor the Pulitzer Prize for public service, journalism’s highest award. In 2019, Kantor and Twohey recounted their race to expose Weinstein in She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. A film based on this book is currently in the making. In addition to her reporting about sexual harassment and abuse, Kantor is well-known for writing about President Barack Obama’s personal and professional life in her 2012 book The Obamas.
William Sturkey is a historian whose scholarship examines race in the American South in the post-Civil War period. Sturkey is the author of Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, a sweeping biracial history of Hattiesburg during the Jim Crow era. In 2020, Hattiesburg won the Zócalo Public Square Book Prize. Currently, Sturkey is working on a biography of the Vietnam War hero, Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez.
William Sturkey is an associate professor at The University of North Carolina. He serves on the Faculty Advisory Board of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and in 2020 he was awarded UNC’s Hettleman Prize for outstanding early career achievement. He received his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Prior to working at UNC, he was a visiting assistant professor at Southern Miss. Dr. Sturkey’s Forum address is co-sponsored by Twin Forks Rising Community Development Corporation.
David Wallace-Wells is a science journalist and a New York Times bestselling-author whose writing focuses on climate change, the impact it will have on our lives, and what we can do to mitigate the crisis. His book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, was named one of the best books of 2019 by The New York Times, GQ, the New Yorker, and Time magazine. An HBO Max series featuring a series of fictional stories about the world’s future inspired by The Uninhabitable Earth is currently in the works. Wallace-Wells is Deputy Editor at New York magazine, a regular contributor to New York and the Guardian, co-host of the podcast 2038, and a National Fellow at the New America Foundation. He is an alumnus of Brown University.
Sarah Lewis is an award-winning author and editor, as well as an associate professor at Harvard University in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Department of African and African American Studies. She is the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Master. Her work combines art history, race, photography, the story of America, and a deeply personal narrative to demonstrate how art can serve as a vehicle for social justice and cultural transformation.
Joyce Carol Oates, winner of the National Humanities Medal and the National Book Award, is a novelist, poet, playwright and essayist. Over 40 of her books have been featured on the New York Times list of notable books of the year. Her most well-known works include A Garden of Earthly Delights, Blonde, The Falls, We Were the Mulvaneys, and them, the winner of the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind '52 Professor Emerita in the Humanities with the Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University.
Oates’ Forum address was co-sponsored by Southern Miss’ Center for Writers and its journal, the Mississippi Review.
Karen L. Cox is a historian of Southern history and culture at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a graduate of Southern Miss. Cox is the author of four books, including Dixie’s Daughters: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture, winner of the 2004 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize from the Southern Association for Women Historians. Her most recent work, No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, explores the polarizing debates over “efforts to raise, preserve, protest, and remove Confederate monuments.”
Xavier Foley is a celebrated musician and composer who uses his art as a tool to help promote social justice. His instrument of choice, the double bass, is rarely presented as a solo instrument; however, Foley was named to New York WQXR’s list of “19 for 19” Artists to Watch and featured on PBS Thirteen’s NYC-ARTs. He has performed as a concerto soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Nashville Symphony. Foley’s composition for violin, bass, and string orchestra, “For Justice and Peace,” has been performed at Carnegie Hall.
Foley’s Forum address was co-sponsored by Southern Miss’ School of Music.