Focus on the Humanities
Mississippi Humanities Council Newsletter - March 2016
Director's Message
Dr. Stuart Rockoff
Executive Director
People from Mississippi are friendly. I saw this in action last week when I was on Capitol Hill with our board chair meeting with our members of Congress. Every year, we travel to Washington, D.C. to make the case for the importance of the humanities and urge our elected officials to support funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities. The night before, leaders from most of the state humanities councils meet to go over messaging and strategy. A few directors did "role plays" to model what to say during the meetings with members of Congress and their staffs. One group included my colleagues from New York and Washington state, who moved quickly through a terse meeting scenario in which the biggest challenge was to keep the attention of the fictional congresswoman. Then, my colleagues from Alabama and Arkansas got a turn to role play, and their performance took twice as long as much of the time was spent talking about people and places they had in common back home.

It was a lot like the meetings we have on Capitol Hill with our members of Congress. We usually have many personal connections and friends in common with the members and staffers we meet. And while I've heard nightmare stories from colleagues from other states about occasional hostile reactions from some members of Congress, we've always been very well received on the Hill.

While we don't expect our fiscally conservative members to always support increases in federal humanities funding, we bond over the importance of our state's history and cultural heritage. I explain how the humanities are very much relevant to Mississippi and can help improve the quality of life in our state. In short, I stress how our work benefits the people they represent.

In the broad scheme of the federal budget, we and the NEH are not that important. NEH received $147 million last year, while the Mississippi Humanities Council received about $670,000 - both are tiny fractions of a national budget that is now in the thirteen figures. Many of the other people sitting in the waiting rooms with us in these congressional offices were lobbying for programs that receive far more in federal funding. And yet, most of our members make a special effort to meet with us in person. Many other state council directors tend to meet only with staffers, if they are lucky.
L-R: Loden Snell of Rep. Gregg Harper's staff, MHC Board Chair Shannon Warnock, Rep. Harper and Stuart Rockoff.
Perhaps the reason for this distinction is that we're just polite down here. One congressional office had an intern personally escort us through the underground tunnels reserved for staff so we could make our next appointment on time. But also, I think our congressional delegation appreciates the work we do and the impact we have on their districts. We do a lot with the small amount of federal funds we receive.

During our meetings, we stressed our grants program, highlighting such projects as "Mississippi Prison Writes," oral histories about the Marks mule train, the Mississippi History Now web resource for teachers and students, and the extraordinary "From Page to Stage" program at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. We mentioned the upcoming tour of the Smithsonian's "Hometown Teams" exhibit, which will visit six different communities (and all four congressional districts) this year. We discussed the impact of our family reading programs, the great success of the "Telling Project" veterans initiative, and our key role in major events like the Mississippi Book Festival and the Mississippi Jubilee symposium.

In addition, we mentioned our ongoing effort to diversify our funding sources through corporate gifts, foundation grants, and individual donations. I encourage you to help us in this effort by donating.

Beyond just being friendly, people from Mississippi feel a strong connection with each other, especially when they are outside the Magnolia state. With all of our difficult history and contemporary challenges, we love our home. The Mississippi Humanities Council is proud to serve Mississippi, and we are so grateful for your support and partnership.
On Friday, March 18,  the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will host the grand opening of t he Smithsonian Institution's traveling exhibit "Hometown Teams." The opening, which will be free and open to the public, will begin at 5pm and will feature a pep rally and  a preview of the exhibit. Sports fans are invited to wear their favorite team's colors or jerseys.

Hometown Tea ms is part of the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street program, through which the Smithsonian bringS high-quality exhibits to small towns throughout the country. Hometown Teams continues that tradition by examining the role of sports in our culture and its important place in our history.
The exhibit will remain at the Sports Hall of Fame and will be open to the public through April 30. During that time, the Sports Hall of Fame has various programs and events that will occur in conjunction with the exhibit. These programs include a conversation with sportswriters Wright Thompson and Rick Cleveland on April 4 at 5pm, as well as a panel discussion with former governors William Winter, Ronnie Musgrove, and Haley Barbour on sports in small town Mississippi on April 25 at 5pm. For a full list of programs surrounding the exhibit, visit our website.

After the exhibit leaves Jackson, it will travel to five other sites throughout the state in 2016. Natchez, Amory, Gulfport, Cleveland, and Corinth will each host Hometown Teams, and each will include programming surrounding the exhibit. Stay tuned for more details!
To celebrate the centennial of the Pulitzer Prizes, the Mississippi Humanities Council is partnering with the Overby Center on three panel discussions entitled "The Pulitzer Prize and Mississippi Journalism." After the first session was held in January on the Gulf Coast, the second in the series will be held at the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at Ole Miss March 22 at 5:30 p.m. The session, entitled "Editorial Winners: Voices of Reason in an Unreasonable Age," will deal with three
Photo courtesy of the Special Collections Department, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University.
small-town editors who won Pulitzer Prizes for editorial writing during the tumultuous Civil
 Rights era: Hodding Carter Jr. of Greenville, Hazel Brannon Smith of Lexington, and Ira Harkey of Pascagoula. Each editor faced tremendous resistance in their commun ities for their courageous stands against racial intolerance.

Participants wil l include family members and a scholar who will discuss the legacy of these important voices of moderation in a time of political extremism: Hodding Carter III, son of Hodding Carter Jr., and himself the editor of the Delta Democrat Times newspaper during the 1960s; Dr. Jan Whitt, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado and the author of Burning Crosses and Activist Journalism: Hazel Brannon Smith and the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement ; and Judge Dale Harkey of Pascagoula, the son of the late editor of The Chronicle in the Gulf Coast city. Overby fellow Curtis Wilkie, who was a young journalist in Mississippi in the 1960s, will be the moderator.

On April 8, the final session, entitled "Prize-Winning Journalism and Social Change," will take place at Millsaps College on April 8 at noon. This panel discussion will focus on the efforts of national journalists to cover the civil rights movement in Mississippi and the crusading reporting in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about education reform that won the paper a Pulitzer Prize in 1983. Panelists will include Hank Klibanoff, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation; Fred Anklam, a former reporter for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger; Dr. Leslie McLemore, former director of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute, and Charles Overby, who was editor of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger at the time of its Pulitzer Prize.

The series is part of the Pulitzer Campfire Initiative commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Prizes in 2016. To prepare for the centennial, the Pulitzer Prize Board announced the Campfires Initiative, which aims to ignite broad engagement with the journalistic, literary, and artistic values the Prizes represent. To inspire year-long programming throughout the country, the board partnered with the Federation of State Humanities Councils on the initiative. It is supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Pulitzer Prize Board.

April 8 - Millsaps College, "Prize Winning Journalism & Social Change." Panel discussion featuring Charles Overby, Fred Anklam, Hank Klibanoff, and Leslie McLemore. Noon. Co-sponsored by the Overby Center.
May - Eudora Welty Foundation, a series of events, including special tours of the Eudora Welty House and lectures related to her Pulitzer-winning novel The Optimist's Daughter.
August 20 - Mississippi Book Festival. Special session featuring a Mississippi-born Pulitzer-winning writer. State Capitol.
September 30 - Tennessee Williams Festival. Special program related to the author's Pulitzer-winning work. Clarksdale.
October 18 - "Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Press," a symposium in partnership with Jackson State University.

May 1 is the next deadline for Mississippi Humanities Council grant applications exceeding $2,000 and up to $7,500. Please note that May 1 is a Sunday and the MHC offices will be closed that day. Email submissions will be accepted through midnight May 1, but the last possible date for personal delivery is Friday, April 30, by 3 p.m. Decisions will be announced June 15.
The Mississippi Humanities Council mission is to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community, and thus empower us with a vision for the future. A principal means of achieving this goal is awarding grants to nonprofit organizations which plan and sponsor humanities activities for the benefit of citizens throughout the state.
Visit and click on "Downloads" to review and/or download grant guidelines and application forms.

The Mississippi Humanities Council welcomes two new speakers to its Speakers Bureau: Award-winning journalist Alysia Burton Steele and  author, journalist and televisio n host Richard Grant.

Steele's presentation is based on her recent book, Delta Jewels: In Search of My 
Grandmoth er's Wisdom ,  a visual and lyrical tribute to African American church mothers  fr om the Mississippi Delta. This groundbreaking collection of oral histories and photographs tells nationally and internationally significant stories rooted in the Mississippi Delta, a distinctive region called "The Cradle of American Culture."

Grant speaks on his experiences as an Englishman living i
n the Mississippi Delta, as recorded in his best-selling book Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi
Delta, which chronicles his  journey with his girlfriend and now wife, from Ne w YorkCity into this strange and wonderful American place.  Grant brings an adept, empathetic eye to the fascinating people he meets, capturing the rich, extraordinary culture of the Delta.

The Mississippi Humanities Council Speakers Bureau  features our state's finest historians, writers and storytellers talking about a wide variety of subje cts related to Mississippi and beyond. The MHC selects speakers based on their credentials and the quality of their program and pays them an honorarium for presenting to nonprofit groups around the state.  Any nonprofit organization within the state of Mississippi may apply to host a Speaker's Bureau member. Visit our website for more details.

The Mississippi Humanities Council awarded a grant to the Museum of the Mississippi Delta to bring the The Power of Children: Making a Difference  exhibit to Greenwood. The Power of Children  shares the extraordinary stories of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White--three children whose lives teach us about overcoming obstacles to make a positive difference in the world. The exhibit encourages children and families
to explore issues of isolation, fear and prejudice throughout 20th century history and today. The material in t his exhibit is serious in nature and recommended for children ages 8 and older and their families and for school groups.

Through audio-visual presentations, original artifacts, and hands-on interac tives, visitors will get to know each child's story. Immersive
enviro nments bring visitors into the spaces where each child felt safe: the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family spent two years in hiding; the first-grade classroom in which Ruby Bridges spent an entire school year alone with her teacher Mrs. Henry; and Ryan White's bedroom, filled with things he treasured.

Most of us will never face the extreme prejudice and hatred that Anne, Ruby and Ryan encountered, but many of us have experienced discrimination and bullying at some time in our lives. The Power of Children encourages children and their families to reflect on the significance of these three stories and the brave actions of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White, helping to put these experiences in perspective and inspiring visitors to bring about positive change in the world.

March 31-May 25, 2016.  Opening Reception: March 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Beverly Wade Hogan has served Tougaloo College as president since May 2002, the first woman to lead this historic institution. Her peers describe her as a visionary, an innovative and strategic thinker, as well as a disciplined, compassionate, firm, fair and spiritual leader. Under Hogan, Tougaloo has added several new undergraduate and graduate programs and created the Centers for Continuing Education, International Studies,and Undergraduate Research.
Hogan has received extensive recognition for her trailblazing contributions. She is the founder of the first psychiatric halfway house in the state of Mississippi. She has authored and published works on topics such as "The Dissonance Analysis of the Viet Nam War," "Comparable Worth--The Challenging Issue of Pay Equity" and "Public Policy Implications of AIDS in the Workplace. A ctive in several professional and civic organizations, Hogan serves on various boards, including Bancorp South, Sanderson Farms, the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation and RAND's Gulf State Policy Institute.

Hogan earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Tougaloo College and master in public policy and administration from Jackson State University. She has earned numerous professional certificates in leadership development, organizational management and administrative law.  She and her husband, Marvin, have two adult sons and six grandchildren.
William "Brother" Rogers is associate director of the John C. Stennis Center for Public Service s in Starkville.  He is active  in community affairs, serving as president of the board of direc tors of Friends of the Okt ibbeha County Heritage Museum and president of the Mississippi Historical Society. His past involvements include the Starkville Chapter of Parents for Public Schools, United Way of North Central Mississippi and facilitator for the Race Relations Team of the Starkville Area Chamber of Commerce. He is responsible for the Cool Papa Bell historical marker in Starkville.
Rogers graduated magna cum laude in 1987 from the University of Alabama where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in economics, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was selected as a Harry S. Truman Scholar from Mississippi. He holds a master's degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. An avid traveler, he has visited five continents, all 50 U.S. state capitals and more than 25 national parks. He and his son, Andrew, a student at Mississippi College, enjoy music, sports and traveling.

Colonel Sheila Varnado, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, retired from the United States Army after completing a 27-year active duty career in January 2004. Upon retirement she returned to Hattiesburg to join her family and serve her community.

Varnado is known for being involved in several community groups in the Hattiesburg area. Beginning in January 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, she began working with United Way of Southeast Mississippi to develop and manage a Long Term Recovery program. March 2008 to January 2014 she served as executive director of R3SM, Inc. (Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast Mississippi). During her leadership she created a network of volunteers consisting of community leaders, social service agencies, local governmental entities, civic clubs, emergency management officials, university students and faith-based disaster organizations. R3SM helped hundreds of families in the Hattiesburg area recover after Hurricane Katrina. She is president of the African American Military History Museum.

Varnado has been recognized with numerous awards for her contributions to the Hattiesburg community. She was the recipient of the Spirit of Women's National Award for her work with Hurricane Katrina recovery. In 2007 she was recognized by Lifetime Television with the Strong Women Award in leadership category. In 2012 she received Rotary Club of Hattiesburg Sunrise:"Service above Self Citizen of the Year Award.  In 2015, she was a cast member of "Telling: South Mississippi," an MHC-sponsored production in which she shared stories of her military service from the stage. Varnado and her reside in Hattiesburg close to her family, friends and community involvements. 
Dr. Preselfannie McDaniels currently serves as associate professor of English and interim chair in the Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages in the College of Liberal Arts at Jackson State University. She received a bachelor of arts from Jackson State University, a master's degree from Mississippi College and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.  McDaniels is an active teacher/researcher.  Her research areas are portfolio pedagogy, capstone pedagogy, service-learning integration and 20th Century American and African American literature.

In addition to her experience in higher education, McDaniels taught grades 9-10 in Jackson Public Schools, grades 7-8 in Wilkinson County Schools, and she worked to organize and teach in after-school programs for grades 1-5 in Baton Rouge via a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Big Buddy Programs. She also served as one of the first K-12 reading specialists for the Mississippi Department of Education.

McDaniels has received faculty mini grants with the JSU Center for Undergraduate Research to work with undergraduate English majors. She and her undergraduate teams have presented their research at the College Language Association Conference and Mississippi Philological Association Conference.  She is married to attorney Johnnie McDaniels and they have two sons: John, 16, and Jaylen, 13.
March 16, 2016
"Walking in Their Footsteps" Musical performs at Touagloo College
Walking in Their Footsteps is a one-act play celebrating the lives of five African American women pioneers from Mississippi using instrumental music, song and dance. Along with music, historical storytelling and spoken word performances will convey the struggles associated with slavery, the African American diaspora and the Civil Rights Movement, beginning with a portrayal of West African life before slave ships arrived. Audiences will learn the connection between West African musical traditions and the uniquely American musical genre, the Blues, while gaining an understanding for how music and dance have preserved and carried forward the histories of the first Africans to arrive on American soil. Touagloo College, 500 West County Line Road, Jackson.

April 5-10, 2016
Behind the Big House: A Peek Behind the Hoop Skirts and Mint Juleps
Behind the grand mansions of the antebellum South, beyond the freshly pressed linens, laid small and intimate slave dwellings where work, toil, and history also happened.  Many historic figures began their lives in these small dwellings such as Civil Rights icon and journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett who was born in Holly Springs a slave and freed four years later. During the  Holly Springs Pilgrimage of Homes, April 7th-10th , visitors will learn much more about this human rights pioneer as well as our unique past in the Behind the Big House Tour.  In addition to touring five of the town's historic mansions included on this year's Pilgrimage, guests will be allowed a rare look into the lives of Holly Springs' slave population during the  "Behind the Big House Tour."

April 6-May 25, 2016
Museum of the Mississippi Delta Brings "The Power of Children" to MS
The Museum of the Mississippi Delta is hosting a seven-week traveling exhibit called  The Power of Children: Making a Difference. Originally developed by the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, the traveling version of this exhibit was made possible through the NEH's On the Road program. The exhibit shares the remarkable stories of Anne Frank, who reached people through her diaries; Ruby Bridges, who integrated the New Orleans Public School system n 1960; and Ryan White, who as a teenager contracted the AIDS virus from a tainted hemophilia drug.  In conjunction with this exhibit, the Museum of the Mississippi Delta will host a series of programs which include a community quilt project, an oral history program, panel discussions, tours, book discussions, and workshops. 
Learn More

April 7, 2016
Down to the Crossroads Author Presents Cranford History Lecture
Started in 1998 to honor the life of longtime history professor and Delta State University archivist Dr. Sammy Cranford, the lectures series has featured outstanding historians such as James Cobb, Nan Woodruff, Charles Reagan Wilson, and John Marszalek.  This year's lecture will be given by Dr. Aram Goudsouzian from the University of Memphis, an award-winning historian who has published several important books in African American history, including Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.

April 14, 2016
Modern Dante: The Humanities, the Academy, and the Public
The Medieval Studies program at University of Mississippi will host Dennis Looney, a professor of Italian classics and philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, who will speak on  Dante in African-American Culture: Exile, Migration, Segregation, Integration, Identity. This talk will derive from Dr. Looney's extensive scholarship on African-American audiences for and revisions of Dante's Divine Comedy. As this lecture series revisits the pre-modern origins of the humanities, the audience will become aware of the animating relationship between the past, present, and future of its related fields.

April 15-17, 2016
Powwow Honors Native American History, Culture
The 2016 Petal Southern Miss Powwow will be held April 14-17. The powwow is a gathering of Native Americans and non-Native Americans in celebration of American Indian culture, crafts, foodways, dance, and song. Many aspects of the cultures of American Indians are in a precarious situation, on the brink of being lost. The goal of this powwow is to remember and share these traditions.This year's powwow will include an emcee who will provide interpretation throughout the powwow about regalia, dance styles, songs, food, and powwow etiquette. This will ensure that those unfamiliar with powwow traditions can still partake and enjoy the ceremony.

April 21, 2016
University of Missisippi Hosts Earth Day Program
The University of Mississippi will celebrate Earth Day April 22 by hosting speaker Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw poet, novelist, memoirist and essayist. Hogan is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including  The Book of Medicines, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and  Indios. Active as an educator and speaker, Hogan has taught at the University of Colorado and at the Indigenous Education Institute. She has been as a speaker at the United Nations Forum and was a plenary speaker at the Environmental Literature Conference in Turkey in 2009.  The program will take place at 7 p.m. in the Overby Auditorium on campus. It will be free and open to the public.

Mississippi Humanities Council programs are engaging, inspiring and free of charge. Your gift makes a big difference to our mission of cultivating an understanding of our history and culture throughout the state. You help us enrich peoples' lives through programs incorporating history, literature, music, politics, philosophy and other humanities-based disciplines that illuminate the human condition. Thanks to your support, we are able to serve all Mississippians: all ages, all geographic areas of the state, all walks of life.
A small gift of $25 will purchase two books for children participating in the Mississippi Humanities Council's Family Literacy Project.
A larger gift of $250 will fund a lecture in a school classroom, local library or civic club, by a member of the Mississippi Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.
A $2,500 contribution will underwrite a six-week reading and discussion series in the Mississippi Humanities Council's Family Literacy Project.

A gift of any amount can support any one of our ongoing programs (click on the program titles for more information):  
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Thanks again for making a difference!


Stuart Rockoff, Executive Director