UM Overby Center Begins Spring Program Series

Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center, will speak on several panel discussions this spring. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi’s Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics will host several discussions and lectures this spring, beginning with a discussion Tuesday (Feb. 20) about a campaign 50 years ago to integrate churches in Jackson.

The panel discussion “Integrating God’s House” will feature Carter Dalton Lyon, author of “Sanctuaries of Segregation: The Story of the Jackson Church Visit Campaign,” Ole Miss graduate Charles Overby, chairman of the Overby Center, and Warren Black, retired pastor of Oxford-University United Methodist Church.

Lyon explored the topic as a graduate student several years ago while working on his dissertation, which turned into a book last year. His research concentrates on civil rights activists from Tougaloo College and their mission to integrate Methodist churches in the 1960s because they believed the national denomination of the church would not approve of segregation.

Overby was in high school in Jackson during this time and witnessed attempts to integrate his church where many black people were arrested while trying to worship. Black was known as one of the community’s progressive leaders during his time at the church in Oxford.

The schedule also includes other programs that reflect on the racial turmoil in the state in the 1960s, marking the 50th anniversary of many historic dates of the civil rights movement.

“It’s hard to believe it has been 50 years since the tumultuous events of 1968,” Overby said. “Our programs this spring will give us an opportunity to look at the politics of the 1960s and compare it to today.”

All Overby Center events begin at 5:30 p.m., with a reception following. The programs are free and open to the public. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the Overby Center auditorium.

Other events in the series are:

March 6 – “Bill Rose Tells All”: Mississippi journalist Bill Rose is retiring after serving as an Overby fellow and journalism instructor at Ole Miss. He will discuss critical news stories and experiences during his long career.

March 28 – “A Conversation About Race”: Gene Dattel, author of “Reckoning with Race: America’s Failure,” and Otis Sanford, former managing editor of The Commercial Appeal and instructor at the University of Memphis, will discuss the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. as the 50th anniversary of his death approaches.

April 3 – “Delta Epiphany”: Journalism instructor Ellen Meacham will discuss her new book that suggests Robert F. Kennedy’s politics were changed by his 1967 visit to the Mississippi Delta, where witnessed poverty and hunger. That visit led to his 1968 presidential campaign, during which he was assassinated. Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie, who covered Kennedy’s Delta trip for the Clarksdale Press Register, will join Meacham in the discussion.

April 10 – “Why Debates are Vital”: Janet Brown, executive director of the Commission on Presidential Debates for the past 30 years, will talk about the importance of debates in modern politics. She played a major role in bringing the 2008 presidential debate to the Ole Miss campus. Brown will be joined by Overby and Wilkie, both of whom covered many debates during their journalism careers.

April 17 – “Tales of Outrageous Injustice”: Radley Balko, investigative reporter with The Washington Post, and Tucker Carrington, director of the Mississippi Innocence Project at the UM School of Law, document how questionable testimonies by “expert witnesses” in state courts have sent innocent people to prison in their book “The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist.” They will discuss how institutional racism and inadequate forensic evidence have influenced the judicial system in Mississippi.

Staff Report

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