Since its establishment in 2005, the Center for Black Studies has sponsored programs
featuring scholars, creative artists, and community activists as guest lecturers on
wide-ranging topics relevant to the study of black people and race relations in general.
Notable Past Events
- “From Demonstration to Legislation: Local Activism and the Legacy of the Voting Rights
Act”: a community panel / dialogue commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. The panel featured members of the Hattiesburg community who were
actively involved in local and state-wide demonstrations calling for the passage of
voting rights legislation and scholars whose work focuses on voting rights and voter
disenfranchisement in the American South. The panel discussion was followed by a voter
registration drive in Hattiesburg’s Mobile/Bouie area organized by the Black Studies
- “Freedom Day”: a re-enactment of the march on January 22, 1964 when groups of civil
rights activists from across the country partnered with local Hattiesburg residents
to challenge the discriminatory practices barring African Americans from voting in
Forrest County, Mississippi.
- “Freedom Summer Dialogues”: monthly public forums (from February to May) about social
and political challenges prevalent in the state of Mississippi and the nation at-large,
fifty years ago and presently. Dr. Anthony Harris (local veteran of the civil rights
movement) and Robert “Bob” Moses (Organizer, “Mississippi Summer Project” and SNCC
Field Secretary) were featured guest speakers during the series.
- “Freedom Summer 1964-2014 Conference”: a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of
Freedom Summer, when hundreds of volunteers came to Mississippi in 1964 launching
a massive voter registration drive for African Americans. It featured keynote speakers
Charles E. Cobb, Jr. (SNCC, Field Secretary and award-winning journalist) and civil
rights historian Emilye Crosby (Geneseo College at SUNY), which appealed to a diverse
collection of other scholars, activists, students, local citizens, and other professionals.
Conference Facebook Page
- A special edition of The Southern Quarterly based on the Freedom Summer commemorative events at Southern Miss is available for
- Poetry Reading & Workshop: poet Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie visited the University of
Southern Mississippi as part of a speaking tour for her book, Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped
Eye Publishing, 2011). As a writer, educator, and performer, Ekere’s creative work
on silence, sexism and racism appealed broadly to members of the University’s campus
and the local community.
- “The Help: Controversy and Mystique”: a panel discussion open to the USM campus and
surrounding communities to address the impact of The Help (2011), a popular novel
by Mississippian writer Kathryn Stockett.
- “Black Power and Yellow Power”: a lecture and Q & A with Dr. Rychetta N. Watkins,
Assistant Professor of English at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Watkins discussed
her book, Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities (University
Press of Mississippi, 2012).
- “Book Donations for Jamaican Youths”: Dr. Sherita L. Johnson (Associate Professor,
Department of English) collected over 500 children's books (new and/or slightly used)
to take to Jamaica as part of a service learning project with the Caribbean Studies
Program. These books were donated to the Blossom Garden Child Care Facility, an orphanage
in Montego Bay, Jamaica and the Granville Place of Safety for Girls in Trelawny, Jamaica.